Supra-personal cognitive control and metacognition

Trends Cogn Sci. 2014 Apr;18(4):186-93. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2014.01.006. Epub 2014 Feb 26.


The human mind is extraordinary in its ability not merely to respond to events as they unfold but also to adapt its own operation in pursuit of its agenda. This 'cognitive control' can be achieved through simple interactions among sensorimotor processes, and through interactions in which one sensorimotor process represents a property of another in an implicit, unconscious way. So why does the human mind also represent properties of cognitive processes in an explicit way, enabling us to think and say 'I'm sure' or 'I'm doubtful'? We suggest that 'system 2 metacognition' is for supra-personal cognitive control. It allows metacognitive information to be broadcast, and thereby to coordinate the sensorimotor systems of two or more agents involved in a shared task.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Decision Making
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Perception / physiology*
  • Thinking*