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Nat Commun. 2016 Dec 15;7:13669. doi: 10.1038/ncomms13669.

Multivoxel neurofeedback selectively modulates confidence without changing perceptual performance.

Cortese A1,2,3,4, Amano K3, Koizumi A1,3, Kawato M1,2, Lau H4,5.

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Department of Decoded Neurofeedback, ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories, 2-2-2 Hikaridai, Seika-cho, Soraku-gun, Kyoto 619-0288, Japan.
Faculty of Information Science, Nara Institute of Science and Technology, 8916-5 Takayama, Ikoma, Nara 630-0192, Japan.
Center for Information and Neural Networks (CiNet), NICT, 1-4 Yamadaoka, Suita City, Osaka 565-0871, Japan.
Department of Psychology, UCLA, Franz Hall, 502 Portola Plaza, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA.
Brain Research Institute, UCLA, 695 Charles E Young Dr S, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA.


A central controversy in metacognition studies concerns whether subjective confidence directly reflects the reliability of perceptual or cognitive processes, as suggested by normative models based on the assumption that neural computations are generally optimal. This view enjoys popularity in the computational and animal literatures, but it has also been suggested that confidence may depend on a late-stage estimation dissociable from perceptual processes. Yet, at least in humans, experimental tools have lacked the power to resolve these issues convincingly. Here, we overcome this difficulty by using the recently developed method of decoded neurofeedback (DecNef) to systematically manipulate multivoxel correlates of confidence in a frontoparietal network. Here we report that bi-directional changes in confidence do not affect perceptual accuracy. Further psychophysical analyses rule out accounts based on simple shifts in reporting strategy. Our results provide clear neuroscientific evidence for the systematic dissociation between confidence and perceptual performance, and thereby challenge current theoretical thinking.

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