Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging
University College London
Knowing that we know: Constructing a sense of confidence
Decisions are often made in the face of uncertainty and in the absence of immediate feedback. Accompanying our decisions is a sense of confidence in having made the right choice. Consider a doctor making a diagnosis. He or she may feel sure about making the right call and confidently prescribe a particular drug, or may be unsure, and instead opt to run further tests. With the passage of time confidence may even drop low enough to warrant a change of mind about the initial diagnosis. Despite near-universal agreement that decision confidence is a useful quantity to guide subsequent behaviour, there is currently little consensus on how it is constructed at a psychological, computational or neural level. Here I will highlight new results from our lab that illuminate how confidence is constructed in the human brain from both trait- and trial-level components, and identify a role for confidence in guiding future changes of mind. Together these findings reveal dissociable nodes in prefrontal cortex that may support metacognitive monitoring and control of simple decisions.