Knowing our own minds (UCL)


[ Music ]>>Introspective ability is
knowledge of our own thoughts, feelings, decisions, and people with good introspective
ability have knowledge which can discriminate between
correct and incorrect decisions. So we make decisions all
the time, we don’t always get feedback about those decisions, but yet we can sometimes know
whether we’ve made a correct decision or an incorrect
decision. And we’ve found that a part of the brain called
the frontal poles, which is the most frontal part of the cortex just behind the
eyes. The grey matter there, the volume of that grey
matter, correlated with people’s introspective
ability.>>We don’t know from this
study why there’s a link between the thickness of prefrontal
cortex and our ability to introspect, the study just shows that
there’s that relationship and it’s confined to one particular region
of the prefrontal cortex. But what we can do now is do
more research and speculate about why that might be so.>>Introspection is a very
broad term and can apply to any time we think about
our own thoughts and feelings and here we define
it as introspection about our decision-making and
this allows us to quantify it in a scientific framework.>>We asked volunteers to
perform a task, a visual task that was really quite difficult. They were shown two screens and on each screen
there were six patches. And on one of the screens, one of the patches was
brighter than the rest. We made this task very difficult so that they were
never really sure when they had seen
the particular patch. Once they made that decision we
then asked them how sure they were about the particular
decision they made.>>For those two measures the
judgement – did you see it or not? – and how confident you are, allowed us to construct
two measures, one measure of how good they
were objectively – how good their performance was – and the other measure is how
good are they at introspecting.>>We then asked every volunteer
to perform a brain scan and we looked at the
structure of their brain.>>And this allowed us to
then relate their behavioural performance, their
introspective ability, to the brain structure. In the real world
when we’re going about our daily life being able to know our own minds
might allow us to then make higher
level decisions.>>People who are
airline pilots or train drivers, we would really want
to have people who are very good at knowing what they’ve seen
and being able to monitor and be aware and confident of
decisions that they’ve made so I think this has important
ramifications for everyday use in several different
professions. [ Music ]

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