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How local and global metacognition shape mental health

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Chair: Dr Graham Murray

Abstract Metacognition refers to the capacity to reflect on our own cognition and mental states, and can be quantified by the extent to which subjective appraisals (such as confidence) track behavioural performance. Alterations in metacognition and self-awareness are often considered foundational to neurological and psychiatric disorders, but remain underinvestigated in the cognitive neurosciences. In my talk I will focus on estimates of decision confidence as a testbed for models of metacognition. I will outline how we can derive metrics of metacognitive bias and sensitivity from confidence rating data, and use these metrics to isolate metacognitive distortions that map onto transdiagnostic symptom clusters in large-N datasets. I will then present recent work aimed at understanding the hierarchical structure of metacognition, ranging from local confidence in individual decisions to global estimates of skills and abilities. Combining brain imaging and computational modeling we have uncovered distinct neurocognitive underpinnings of global and local metacognition. I will close by outlining a theoretical framework in which interactions between these levels play a pivotal role in mental health.

Biography Dr Stephen Fleming is a Sir Henry Dale Wellcome Trust/Royal Society Fellow at the Department of Experimental Psychology, Prinicipal Investigator at the Wellcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging, and Group Leader at the Max Planck-UCL Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research. Dr Fleming’s research combines experimental and theoretical approaches (psychophysics, computational modelling, neuroimaging) to understand how people become self-aware of aspects of their cognition and behaviour (such as perception, memory and decision-making), and why such awareness is often impaired in psychiatric and neurological disorders. For detailed biography of Dr Fleming, please visit

This talk is part of the Department of Psychiatry & CPFT Thursday Lunchtime Seminar Series series.

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