Action-specific disruption of perceptual confidence

Psychol Sci. 2015 Jan;26(1):89-98. doi: 10.1177/0956797614557697. Epub 2014 Nov 25.


Theoretical models of perception assume that confidence is related to the quality or strength of sensory processing. Counter to this intuitive view, we showed in the present research that the motor system also contributes to judgments of perceptual confidence. In two experiments, we used transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to manipulate response-specific representations in the premotor cortex, selectively disrupting postresponse confidence in visual discrimination judgments. Specifically, stimulation of the motor representation associated with the unchosen response reduced confidence in correct responses, thereby reducing metacognitive capacity without changing visual discrimination performance. Effects of TMS on confidence were observed when stimulation was applied both before and after the response occurred, which suggests that confidence depends on late-stage metacognitive processes. These results place constraints on models of perceptual confidence and metacognition by revealing that action-specific information in the premotor cortex contributes to perceptual confidence.

Keywords: monitoring; motor processes; open data; perception.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metacognition / physiology*
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation / methods*
  • Young Adult