Neural signatures of perceptual consciousness, predictive coding and metacognitive sensitivity in infants
My talk will focus on whether and how infants 1) experience perceptual consciousness, 2) rely on bayesian inference to monitor surprising events in their environment, and 3) rely on metacognitive sensitivity to monitor decision confidence and detect their own errors. I will first describe how one can test for perceptual consciousness in infants by relying on neural signatures validated in adult populations. Our studies confirm the presence of these neural signatures in 5 to 15 month-old infants, but also reveal that their temporal dynamics are extremely slow compared to adult populations. Secondly, I will describe how EEG recordings combined with cross-modal cueing paradigms can be used to track the impact of predictions on the infant visual brain. Our results reveal that the infants brain deals with predictive codes using two distinct modes: first, by enhancing the gain of sensory signals for expected events, and then by triggering global responses to surprising events. Finally, I will show how post-decision behaviors and error-related electrophysiological signatures can be used to probe confidence and error monitoring in infants. Our results reveal that although explicit forms of metacognition might mature later during childhood, the core, implicit mechanisms of metacognitive sensitivity are already at play during the first year of life. I will conclude on perspectives for learning and education.