1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: Neuroimaging and lesion studies suggested that the dorsolateral prefrontal and posterior parietal cortices mediate visual metacognitive awareness. The causal evidence provided by non-invasive brain stimulation, however, is inconsistent. Objective/hypothesis: Here we revisit a major figure discrimination experiment adding a new Kanizsa figure task trying to resolve whether bilateral continuous theta-burst transcranial magnetic stimulation (cTBS) over these regions affects perceptual metacognition. Specifically, we tested whether subjective visibility ratings and/or metacognitive efficiency are lower when cTBS is applied to these two regions in comparison to an active control region. Methods: A within-subjects design including three sessions spaced by one-week intervals was implemented. In each session, every participant was administered bilateral cTBS to either prefrontal, control or parietal cortices. Two concurrent tasks were performed, a real and an illusory figure task, stabilising objective performance with use of an adaptive staircase procedure. Results: When performing the replicated task, cTBS was found insufficient to disrupt neither visibility ratings nor metacognitive efficiency. However, with use of Kanizsa style illusory figures, cTBS over the dorsolateral prefrontal, but not over the posterior parietal cortex, was observed to significantly diminish metacognitive efficiency. Conclusion(s): Real and illusory figure tasks demonstrated different cTBS effects. A possible explanation is the involvement of the prefrontal cortex in the creation of expectations, which is necessary for efficient metacognition. Failure to replicate previous findings for the real figure task, however, cannot be said to support, conclusively, the notion that these brain regions have a causal role in metacognitive awareness. This inconsistent finding may result from certain limitations of our study, thereby suggesting the need for yet further investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-50
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


  • Continuous theta-burst transcranial magnetic stimulation (cTBS)
  • Dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC)
  • Metacognition
  • Posterior parietal cortex (PPC)
  • Visual awareness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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