Metacognitive blindness in temporal selection during the deployment of spatial attention.
Recht S., de Gardelle V., Mamassian P.
How does orienting attention in space affect the quality of our confidence judgments? Orienting attention to a particular location is known to boost visual performance, but the deployment of attention is far from being instantaneous. Whether observers are able to monitor the time needed for attention to deploy remains largely unknown. To address this question, we adapted a "Wundt clocks" paradigm, asking observers (N=140) to reproduce the phase of a rotating clock at the time of an attentional cue, and to evaluate their confidence in their responses. Attention affected the latency between objective and perceived events: the average reported phase was delayed in accordance with the known latencies of voluntary and involuntary attention. Yet, we found that confidence remains oblivious to these attention-induced perceptual delays, like a 'metacognitive blind spot'. In addition, we observed weaker metacognition specifically during the deployment of voluntary attention, suggesting a tight relationship between the attentional and metacognitive systems. While previous work has considered how visual confidence adjusts to fully attended versus unattended locations, our study demonstrates that the very process of orienting attention in space can alter metacognition.