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

Noradrenaline blockade specifically enhances metacognitive performance.

Author information

1
Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, University College London, London, United Kingdom.
2
Max Planck University College London Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research, London, United Kingdom.
3
Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, London, United Kingdom.

Abstract

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.

KEYWORDS:

dopamine; human; metacognition; neuroscience; noradrenaline

PMID:
28489001
PMCID:
PMC5425252
DOI:
10.7554/eLife.24901
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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