Why are our actions accompanied by subjective experiences? One possibility is that metacognitive experiences inform us when our actions do not proceed fluently. Metacognition might act as cue for the executive system to increase the degree of control. Indeed, it has been shown that the crucial requirement to improve control is not the conscious perception of interfering information, but rather the subjective experience of its cumbersome effect. From this, we predicted that training people to appreciate their metacognitive experiences should help them to more appropriately increase executive control. To test this, participants performed a conflict task, which is known to target executive control demands, at the start and at the end of this study. In between, participants performed three sessions of the same conflict task, during which they were provided with feedback on their metacognitive judgments, giving them the possibility to train this ability. The results showed a striking dissociation. Participants whose metacognitive performance significantly increased also showed improved performance following conflicts (i.e., increased conflict adaptation) in the conflict task, indicative of improved executive control. In contrast, participants who did not gain from this metacognitive training, and actually got worse, showed a marked decrease in handling conflicts in the conflict task. As this was not attributable to overall differences in response speed or accuracy, this cannot be accounted for as a general decline in performance, but reflects a selective decrease in executive control. We conclude that the functional role of metacognitive experiences is to efficiently deploy executive control, an ability which can improve with practice.
|Title of host publication||The 19th anual meeting of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness (ASSC)|
|Publication status||Published - 8 Jul 2015|
|Event||19th Annual meeting of the assocation for the scientific study of consciousness (ASSC19) - Paris, France|
Duration: 7 Jul 2015 → 10 Jan 2016
|Conference||19th Annual meeting of the assocation for the scientific study of consciousness (ASSC19)|
|Period||7/07/15 → 10/01/16|