Bert de Smedt
(Katholic University of Leuven, Belgium; https://perswww.kuleuven.be/~u0040938/).
"Behavioral and Neural signatures of metacognition: Metacognitive monitoring and arithmetic in children"
Aligning with the ancient Greek aphorism know thyself, many scholars contend that the ability to reflect upon our own thoughts aka metacognition constitutes the core of what makes us human. Metacognition received a lot of attention in educational research, which repeatedly demonstrated its role in academic performance. One limitation of this work is that in these studies metacognition is investigated in very coarse ways, that is via general questionnaires. On the other hand, there is wealth of experimental research on metacognition, albeit largely in adults, which has used more fine-grained local measures of metacognition, yet this work has focused on the role of metacognition in basic perceptual processes, leaving its role in more complex processes, such as academic learning, unresolved. In this talk, I will present a series of developmental behavioral and brain imaging studies that have used local fine-grained measures of metacognition to understand its role in arithmetic. In this work, we specifically focused on metacognitive monitoring, which is the subjective self-assessment of how well a cognitive task will be/has been performed. This was investigated via trial-by-trial assessments of calibration of confidence, which measure the alignment between one’s confidence in the answer and the objective arithmetic performance. I will present cross-sectional and longitudinal data on the association between metacognitive monitoring and arithmetic in 7-to-10-year-old children. I will discuss findings of an fMRI study that examined this issue at the neural level and present data that examined the specificity of this association (i.e. whether this monitoring reflects a domain-specific or domain-general process), as well as its interactions with emotional processes, such as mathematics anxiety.