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Neuroimage. 2013 Jun;73:80-94. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2013.01.054. Epub 2013 Feb 4.

Distinct brain mechanisms for conscious versus subliminal error detection.

Author information

1
INSERM, U992, Cognitive Neuroimaging Unit, CEA/SAC/DSV/DRM/NeuroSpin, Bât 145, Point Courrier 156 F-91191 Gif/Yvette, France. lucie.charles.ens@googlemail.com

Abstract

Metacognition, the ability to monitor one's own cognitive processes, is frequently assumed to be univocally associated with conscious processing. However, some monitoring processes, such as those associated with the evaluation of one's own performance, may conceivably be sufficiently automatized to be deployed non-consciously. Here, we used simultaneous electro- and magneto-encephalography (EEG/MEG) to investigate how error detection is modulated by perceptual awareness of a masked target digit. The Error-Related Negativity (ERN), an EEG component occurring ~100 ms after an erroneous response, was exclusively observed on conscious trials: regardless of masking strength, the amplitude of the ERN showed a step-like increase when the stimulus became visible. Nevertheless, even in the absence of an ERN, participants still managed to detect their errors at above-chance levels under subliminal conditions. Error detection on conscious trials originated from the posterior cingulate cortex, while a small response to non-conscious errors was seen in dorsal anterior cingulate. We propose the existence of two distinct brain mechanisms for metacognitive judgements: a conscious all-or-none process of single-trial response evaluation, and a non-conscious statistical assessment of confidence.

PMID:
23380166
PMCID:
PMC5635965
DOI:
10.1016/j.neuroimage.2013.01.054
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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