Perceptual metacognition of human faces is causally supported by function of the lateral prefrontal cortex.Commun Biol. 2020 07 09; 3(1):360.CB
Metacognitive awareness-the ability to know that one is having a particular experience-is thought to guide optimal behavior, but its neural bases continue to be the subject of vigorous debate. Prior work has identified correlations between perceptual metacognitive ability and the structure and function of lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC); however, evidence for a causal role of this region in promoting metacognition is controversial. Moreover, whether LPFC function promotes metacognitive awareness of perceptual and emotional features of complex, yet ubiquitous face stimuli is unknown. Here, using model-based analyses following a causal intervention to LPFC in humans, we demonstrate that LPFC function promotes metacognitive awareness of the orientation of faces-although not of their emotional expressions. Collectively, these data support the causal involvement of the prefrontal cortex in metacognitive awareness, and indicate that the role of LPFC in metacognition encompasses perceptual experiences of naturalistic social stimuli.