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Matthew Davidson

BPsych (Hons), PhD

Post-doctoral Research Associate

The neural basis of consciousness, attention, and metacognition.

My work distinguishes neural markers for overlapping cognitive resources. 

In particular I focus on distinguishing the neural signatures of attention, decision confidence, and meta-cognition (thinking about thinking) in human electroencephalography (EEG). 

If we can disambiguate these markers, we will improve our understanding of the basis of introspection, and reach distinct neural markers for the contents of conscious perception.

This point is illustrated with a toy example: if I repeatedly show you a visual image, you might remark that it was easy or difficult to see with some degree of variation. 

At present, we cannot be sure whether any differences in brain activity relate to only one, or perhaps some combination of the markers described above: perhaps different patterns of brain activity reflect fluctuations in your attention that contribute to your perceived difficulty. Perhaps you did see the stimulus, but suffer from low confidence. Alternatively, is it possible that you did not see the stimulus at all, but failed to report accurately on this particular trial? 

With clear objective markers for each case, we can begin to isolate the neural basis of consciousness in healthy human subjects.

I am also applying this research to benefit human-machine teaming, via brain-computer interface (BCI) technology.

For example, individualised feedback based on fluctuating states of attention, confidence, or metacognitive accuracy can be used to improve performance on a difficult task when completed during simultaneous EEG.

Recent publications

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