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Conscious Cogn. 2018 Jul;62:34-41. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2018.04.009. Epub 2018 Apr 30.

On a 'failed' attempt to manipulate visual metacognition with transcranial magnetic stimulation to prefrontal cortex.

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Department of Psychology, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1563, United States. Electronic address:
Neuroscience Institute, New York University Langone Medical Center, New York, NY 10016, United States.
Department of Psychology, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1563, United States; Department of Bioengineering, University of California Riverside, Riverside, CA 92521, United States.


Rounis, Maniscalco, Rothwell, Passingham, and Lau (2010) reported that stimulation of prefrontal cortex impairs visual metacognition. Bor, Schwartzman, Barrett, and Seth (2017) attempted to replicate this result, but adopted an experimental design that reduced their chanceof obtaining positive findings. Despite that, their results appeared initially consistent with those of Rounis et al., but they subsequently claimed it was necessary to discard ∼30% of their subjects, after which they reported a null result. Using computer simulations, we found that, contrary to their supposed purpose, excluding subjects by Bor et al.'s criteria does not reduce false positive rates. Including both their positive and negative result in a Bayesian framework, we show the correct interpretation is that PFC stimulation likely impaired visual metacognition, exactly contradicting Bor et al.'s claims. That lesion and inactivation studies demonstrate similar positive effects further suggests that Bor et al.'s reported negative finding isn't evidence against the role of prefrontal cortex in metacognition.


Consciousness; Metacognition; Prefrontal cortex; Transcranial magnetic stimulation; Visual awareness

[Available on 2019-07-01]

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