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PLoS One. 2015 May 7;10(5):e0126588. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0126588. eCollection 2015.

Relating Pupil Dilation and Metacognitive Confidence during Auditory Decision-Making.

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Department of Psychology, New York University, New York, New York, United States of America.
Center for Neural Science, New York University, New York, New York, United States of America; Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom.


The sources of evidence contributing to metacognitive assessments of confidence in decision-making remain unclear. Previous research has shown that pupil dilation is related to the signaling of uncertainty in a variety of decision tasks. Here we ask whether pupil dilation is also related to metacognitive estimates of confidence. Specifically, we measure the relationship between pupil dilation and confidence during an auditory decision task using a general linear model approach to take into account delays in the pupillary response. We found that pupil dilation responses track the inverse of confidence before but not after a decision is made, even when controlling for stimulus difficulty. In support of an additional post-decisional contribution to the accuracy of confidence judgments, we found that participants with better metacognitive ability - that is, more accurate appraisal of their own decisions - showed a tighter relationship between post-decisional pupil dilation and confidence. Together our findings show that a physiological index of uncertainty, pupil dilation, predicts both confidence and metacognitive accuracy for auditory decisions.

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