Confidence Predictions Affect Performance Confidence and Neural Preparation in Perceptual Decision Making.
Schiffer A-M., Boldt A., Waszak F., Yeung N.
<p>The decisions we make are usually accompanied by a feeling of being wrong or right – a confidence estimate regarding the correctness of our decisions. The questions which information this confidence estimate is based on, and what confidence is used for, have increasingly become a focus of research into decision-making. This research has largely focused on confidence regarding current or past decisions, and successfully identified for example how characteristics of the stimulus affect confidence, and how communicating confidence can affect group decisions. Here, we report two studies which implemented a color-discrimination task which introduced a novel metacognitive measure: predictions of confidence for future perceptual decisions. Using behavioral measures, computational modeling, and EEG, we tested the hypothesis that experience-based confidence predictions are one source of information which affects how confident we are in future decision-making and that one key purpose of confidence is to prepare future encounters of a task. Results from both studies show that participants develop precise confidence predictions informed by confidence experienced in past trials. Notably, our results show a bi-directional link between predicted and experienced (performance) confidence: confidence predictions are not only informed by, but can also modulate performance confidence; this finding supports our recent proposal that confidence judgments are based on multiple sources of information, including expectations. We found further support for this bi-directional link in neural correlates of stimulus-preparation and processing. EEG measures of preparatory neural activity (contingent negative variation; CNV) and evidence accumulation (centro-parietal positivity; CPP) show that predicted confidence affects neural preparation for stimulus processing, supporting the proposal that one purpose of confidence judgments may be to learn about performance for future encounters and prepare accordingly.Taken together, our results suggest that confidence integrates information from various sources, and affects neural processing profoundly. The bi-directional link between performance confidence and predicted confidence suggests that confidence signals are exploited to increase precision in preparation and evaluation of future decisions.</p>