Periodic Reporting for period 1 - MetaBil (Metacognition and bilingualism in linguistic and non-linguistic domains)
Reporting period: 2018-12-01 to 2020-11-30
1. In language domain, bilinguals indeed outperform monolinguals in metacognitive efficiency.
2. Bilinguals better estimate the likelihood of making an error in language tasks compared to monolinguals. This leads to lower confidence in their response when the probability of making an error is high. Therefore, bilinguals’ retrospect confidence ratings (confidence rating assigned to past decisions) discriminate between correct and incorrect responses better than those of monolinguals. Importantly, this increase in discriminative power is due to lower confidence of bilinguals on incorrect responses, while confidence ratings on correct responses do not differ between bilinguals and monolinguals.
3. The mechanism that underlies this metacognitive enhancement is enhanced error-detection and error-monitoring in bilinguals compared to monolinguals.
4. The data on whether metacognitive enhancement is transferrable across operational domains is inconsistent. We have observed electrophysiological evidence of the transfer (in terms of error-related negativity, error-related positivity and other correlates), yet this did not surface at the behavioural level. In other words, bilinguals exhibit electrophysiological evidence of enhanced error-detection and error-monitoring mechanisms in non-language domain compared to monolinguals, yet retrospect confidence ratings on correct and incorrect responses did not differ between bilingual and monolinguals populations. Neither did we observe differences between populations in terms of metacognitive sensitivity/metacognitive efficiency in non-language domain. Further studies are needed to properly address the limits of transferability of metacognitive enhancement across domains.
5. The experiment aimed to understand whether the neural underpinning of metacognitive processing is domain-general or domain-specific has not been conducted (see full report).
We found that bilinguals indeed outperform monolinguals in metacognitive processing in language domain. Enriched cognitive experience in language domain allows bilinguals to better estimate the probability of giving a wrong response when decision-making process engages those mechanisms that are also activated while processing natural speech. Bilinguals are more sensitive to those cases when they are likely to make a mistake, and thus they report that they are not confident in the decisions on such cases. This effect can potentially be transferred to non-language domain, and this is where the project might have societal implications. We observed the evidence of the transfer at the electrophysiological level, but not at behavioural level. In those cases, when this transfer happens at the behavioural level, decision making and evaluation of decisions might differ between bilinguals and monolinguals, thus leading to potentially different decisions at the group level in bilingual and monolingual populations. However, within the framework of this project (24 months), we could not attend to this question.