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Behavioral and Neurobiological Studies of Metacognition
(Views of Kokoro Research Domain)

Project Leader
Shintaro Funahashi, Ph.D., Professor, Kokoro Research Center, Kyoto University

Collaborative Research Affiliates
Kazuhiro Goto, Ph.D., Researcher, Kyoto University
Hiroki Yamamoto, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Kyoto University
Nobukatsu Sawamoto, MD, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Kyoto University
Hidenao Fukuyama, MD, Ph.D., Professor, Kyoto University
Kazuo Fujita, Ph.D., Professor, Kyoto University

We can monitor the contents and the status of our own memories, such as what we know and what we do not know. This function is known as metamemory, one of important forms of metacognition. By understanding the mechanism of metamemory, we could obtain valuable insights of the mechanism for monitoring our own kokoro. Using metamnemonic functions, we can monitor our own memory content and status and control our actions based on its result, such as I know the answer or I don’t know. Thus, metamemory has two functions, namely, monitoring the memory process and controlling the action. It is known that the prefrontal cortex monitors the information process operating in other brain areas and, at the same time, controls the information process in those brain areas by sending control signals. These functions by the prefrontal cortex are highly compatible with the functions of the metamemory. Human clinical studies and functional brain imaging studies indicate that the prefrontal cortex is an important brain area for metamemory. We thus try to understand the neural basis of the metamemory in the prefrontal cortex by examining mechanisms for monitoring the content and the status of information stored in the working memory system, since the prefrontal cortex has been known as an important brain area for working memory and since our research group has been examining neural mechanisms of working memory extensively in the prefrontal cortex. In addition, we try to elucidate neural networks for metamemory in the whole brain by functional brain imaging.