Quantifying human metacognition for the neurosciences Book Chapter

Schwartz, BL, Díaz, F. (2014). Quantifying human metacognition for the neurosciences . 9783642451904 9-23. 10.1007/978-3-642-45190-4_2

cited authors

  • Schwartz, BL; Díaz, F


  • The study of metacognition examines the relation between internal cognitive processes and mental experience. To investigate metacognition researchers ask participants to make confidence judgments about the efficacy of some aspect of their cognition or memory. We are concerned that, in our haste to understand metacognition, we mistakenly equate the judgments we elicit from participants with the processes that underlie them. We assert here that multiple processes may determine any metacognitive judgment. In our own research, we explore the tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon (TOT). Both behavioral and neuroscience evidence suggest that a number of processes contribute to the TOT. The fMRI, electroencephalography (EEG), and magnetoencephalography (MEG) data find that retrieval failure and TOT experience map onto different areas of the brain and at different times following the presentation of a stimuli. Behavioral data suggest that there are multiple cognitive processes that contribute to the TOT, including cue familiarity and the retrieval of related information. We assert that TOTs occur when retrieval processes fail and a separate set of processes monitor the retrieval failure to determine if the target can eventually be recovered. Thus, the TOT data support a model in which different underlying processes are responsible for the cognition and the metacognition that monitors it. Thus, understanding any metacognitive judgment must involve understanding the cognition it measures and the multiple processes that contribute to the judgment.

publication date

  • December 1, 2014

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

start page

  • 9

end page

  • 23


  • 9783642451904