Past research has shown that judgments of learning (JOLs), subjective confidence judgments made at study about later memorability, are inferential in nature and based on cues available during encoding. Participants tend to use fluency as a cue and give higher JOLs to more fluently encoded items, despite having better recognition memory for disfluently encoded items, which leads to poor JOL accuracy. Research has implicated the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and anterior prefrontal cortex (aPFC) in JOL and encoding processes, but no studies to date have tested how the roles of these regions vary with the information on which JOLs are based. We used high-definition transcranial direct current stimulation to test the causal roles of DLPFC and aPFC in encoding success, JOL ratings, and JOL accuracy. Participants studied and made JOLs about words that varied in fluency (i.e., frequency and orientation). High-definition transcranial direct current stimulation over the DLPFC impaired encoding, as evidenced by an increase in subsequent false alarms. For words that were less fluently encoded, aPFC stimulation improved JOL accuracy, perhaps making participants more aware of encoding failures under conditions of disfluency. Conversely, DLPFC and aPFC stimulation decreased JOL accuracy for high-frequency words, suggesting the roles of these regions in JOLs vary with the cognitive bases of the judgments. These results contribute to our understanding of the causal roles of prefrontal regions in objective and subjective memory processes and how their contributions to metamemory accuracy vary with information on which subjective assessments are based.

You do not currently have access to this content.