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Rahnev, D, Koizumi A, McCurdy LY, D'Esposito M, Lau H.  2015.  Confidence Leak in Perceptual Decision Making., 2015 Sep 25. Psychological science. Abstract

People live in a continuous environment in which the visual scene changes on a slow timescale. It has been shown that to exploit such environmental stability, the brain creates a continuity field in which objects seen seconds ago influence the perception of current objects. What is unknown is whether a similar mechanism exists at the level of metacognitive representations. In three experiments, we demonstrated a robust intertask confidence leak-that is, confidence in one's response on a given task or trial influencing confidence on the following task or trial. This confidence leak could not be explained by response priming or attentional fluctuations. Better ability to modulate confidence leak predicted higher capacity for metacognition as well as greater gray matter volume in the prefrontal cortex. A model based on normative principles from Bayesian inference explained the results by postulating that observers subjectively estimate the perceptual signal strength in a stable environment. These results point to the existence of a novel metacognitive mechanism mediated by regions in the prefrontal cortex.