Send to

Choose Destination
Elife. 2017 May 10;6. pii: e24901. doi: 10.7554/eLife.24901.

Noradrenaline blockade specifically enhances metacognitive performance.

Author information

Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, University College London, London, United Kingdom.
Max Planck University College London Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research, London, United Kingdom.
Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, London, United Kingdom.


Impairments in metacognition, the ability to accurately report one's performance, are common in patients with psychiatric disorders, where a putative neuromodulatory dysregulation provides the rationale for pharmacological interventions. Previously, we have shown how unexpected arousal modulates metacognition (Allen et al., 2016). Here, we report a double-blind, placebo-controlled, study that examined specific effects of noradrenaline and dopamine on both metacognition and perceptual decision making. Signal theoretic analysis of a global motion discrimination task with adaptive performance staircasing revealed that noradrenergic blockade (40 mg propranolol) significantly increased metacognitive performance (type-II area under the curve, AUROC2), but had no impact on perceptual decision making performance. Blockade of dopamine D2/3 receptors (400 mg amisulpride) had no effect on either metacognition or perceptual decision making. Our study is the first to show a pharmacological enhancement of metacognitive performance, in the absence of any effect on perceptual decision making. This enhancement points to a regulatory role for noradrenergic neurotransmission in perceptual metacognition.


dopamine; human; metacognition; neuroscience; noradrenaline

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for eLife Sciences Publications, Ltd Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center