Metacognitive Deficiency in a Perceptual but Not a Memory Task in Methadone Maintenance Patients

Sci Rep. 2017 Aug 1;7(1):7052. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-06707-w.


Drug addiction has been associated with lack of insight into one's own abilities. However, the scope of metacognition impairment among drug users in general and opiate dependent individuals in particular is not fully understood. Investigating the impairments of metacognitive ability in Substance Dependent Individuals (SDIs) in different cognitive tasks could contribute to the ongoing debate over whether metacognition has domain-general or domain-specific neural substrates. We compared metacognitive self-monitoring ability of a group of SDIs during methadone maintenance treatment (n = 23) with a control group (n = 24) in a memory and a visual perceptual task. Post decision self judgements of probability of correct choice were obtained through trial by trial confidence ratings and were used to compute metacognitive ability. Results showed that despite comparable first order performance in the perceptual task, SDIs had lower perceptual metacognition than the control group. However, although SDIs had poorer memory performance, their metacognitive judgements in the memory task were as accurate as the control group. While it is commonly believed that addiction causes pervasive impairment in cognitive functions, including metacognitive ability, we observed that the impairment was only significant in one specific task, the perceptual task, but not in the memory task.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / administration & dosage
  • Analgesics, Opioid / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Maintenance Chemotherapy / adverse effects*
  • Maintenance Chemotherapy / methods
  • Memory / drug effects*
  • Mental Disorders / chemically induced*
  • Metacognition / drug effects*
  • Methadone / administration & dosage
  • Methadone / adverse effects*
  • Perception / drug effects*


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Methadone