Validating animal models of metacognition

Jonathon D. Crystal

in Foundations of Metacognition

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199646739
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745867 | DOI:
Validating animal models of metacognition

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The comparative analysis of metacognition is a pathway towards uncovering fundamental information about the evolution of mind. A substantial amount of research has been directed towards this goal in the last 15 years. However, progress in the comparative analysis of metacognition is threatened by conflicting views about the standards required to document metacognition in animals. Consequently, the goal of this chapter is to outline some ideas about what type of evidence is required to validate an animal model of metacognition. The first part of this chapter provides a brief review of examples of metacognition. The second part of this chapter analyses these experiments with respect to two types of hypotheses: the first proposal is that the subject has the capacity of metacognition; the second proposal is that the subject is not capable of metacognition but solves the problem using basic learning mechanisms. The next section outlines some examples of conflicting views about interpretation of metacognition experiments. The chapter concludes by recommending the use of simulations from computational models of proposed psychological processes (i.e. metacognition and non-metacognition) to determine if a particular pattern of data may be explained by metacognition or alternative hypotheses. This approach may be used to increase our confidence that putative evidence of metacognition is indeed based on the capacity of metacognition.

Keywords: metacognition; evolution of mind; comparative psychology; animal models; learning mechanisms; computational models; simulations

Chapter.  7369 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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