Project Detail
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Metacognition in comparative perspective  

The capacity to monitor one's state of learning, knowing, and remembering is critical to every intellectual and educational activity. Understanding the cognitive organization of this capacity in adult humans, and tracing its phylogenetic emergence, would support the development of animal models for metacognition, expand the range of metacognitive paradigms available to researchers, help illuminate the earliest roots of metacognition in human children, support the study of metacognition in language-delayed or autistic children, and possibly ground efforts to train metacognition in educationally challenged populations. Accordingly, this project explores the cognitive-monitoring and cognitive-control capacity that is called metacognition. The research design includes tasks that assess the monitoring of mental states by humans and nonhuman primates and their guiding control over their cognitive processes. These tasks will allow humans and monkeys to decline to complete difficult trials, to rate their confidence, to allocate study time adaptively, to self-evaluate their memory, and to judge the quality of their learning. Using these tasks, the proposed research will study the role of reinforcement/learning in metacognition, asking whether uncertainty and confidence can show independence from learning history and reinforcement contingencies while generalizing flexibly to novel tasks. The research will use methods of process dissociation from cognitive neuroscience to evaluate whether metacognitive judgments are executive and attentional in psychological character. It will ask whether metacognition is possible during temporally-extended problem solving by humans and animals, thus approaching metacognition chronometrically for the first time. It will explore the level of awareness that accompanies metacognition in humans and animals. It will broaden the comparative study of metacognition by examining judgments-of-learning and memory-quality criteria for the first time. It will also broaden the comparative study of metacognition by examining the cognitive-control dimension of metacognition. Cognitive control-by which information-processing strategies and information- gathering activities are flexibly tailored to task performance-is also a critical educational function. Project Status


Funder National Institutes of Health
Fiscal Year Funding $234,705.00
Current Award Period 2010-2015
Project Number 1R01HD061455-01A1
Principal Investigator Smith, J. David; Beran, Michael
Received ARRA Funding? No
Strategic Plan Question Question 2: How Can I Understand What Is Happening? (Biology)
Subcategory Cognitive Studies
Strategic Plan Objective 2O. Not specific to Question 2 objectives
Federal or Private? Federal
Institution University at Buffalo, The State University of New York
State/Country New York
Web Link 1 Metacognition in comparative perspective (External web link)
Web Link 2 No URL available.
Web Link 3 No URL available.
History/Related Projects N/A