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Dopamine: Enhances Confidence, Increases Self-Awareness & Metacognition
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When experiences become meaningful to the self, they are linked to synchronous activity in a paralimbic network of self-awareness and dopaminergic activity. This network includes medial prefrontal and medial parietal/posterior cingulate cortices, where transcranial magnetic stimulation may transiently impair self-awareness. Conversely, we hypothesize that dopaminergic stimulation may improve self-awareness and metacognition (i.e., the ability of the brain to consciously monitor its own cognitive processes). Here, we demonstrate improved noetic (conscious) metacognition by oral administration of 100 mg dopamine in minimal self-awareness. In a separate experiment with extended self-awareness dopamine improved the retrieval accuracy of memories of self-judgment (autonoetic, i.e., explicitly self-conscious) metacognition. Concomitantly, magnetoencephalography (MEG) showed increased amplitudes of oscillations (power) preferentially in the medial prefrontal cortex. Given that electromagnetic activity in this region is instrumental in self-awareness, this explains the specific effect of dopamine on explicit self-awareness and autonoetic metacognition.
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