Research Topic

“We know what we are, but know not what we may be”: Metacognition and Self-awareness in the Aging Brain

About this Research Topic

Metacognition is the knowledge and reflective capacity one has concerning one’s own cognitive functioning. It serves to select and deploy methods for dealing with events, monitoring actions, correcting failures and assessing the utility of solutions. Metacognition underpins successful adaptation and self-awareness, and is modulated by emotional processes. As the worldwide increase in life expectancy compels a progressively larger segment of population to face new demands, metacognition is becoming an essential skill in the elderly. However, in reality the integration of ongoing physical, social, cognitive and emotional changes into previous self-knowledge can be extremely challenging for the elderly. These changes are far from being trivial, so the elderly can experience detrimental increases in stress levels and deleterious consequences to their mood from the aging process that can impair their metacognition. Therefore, with elderly people facing these challenges as they age, understanding how metacognitive ability can overcome these obstacles would help improve quality of life and help identify novel interventions when neuropsychiatric conditions develop.

The goal of this Research Topic is to outline a multifaceted model of metacognition in aging people. In this model, we will focus on brain structural and functional features, neuropsychological, behavioural and genetic correlates as well as protective factors underpinning physiological and pathological metacognitive phenomena in the elderly. In particular, studies of deficits in metacognition, or anosognosia, due to pathological structural and/or functional events are of upmost clinical interest. The outcomes from these studies should help with the prevention, early diagnosis and overall therapeutic aims of neurological and neuropsychiatric conditions in the elderly. Furthermore, we aim to explore how metacognition in the elderly is useful in everyday life, including aiding aging populations to maintain a presence in working environments. In fact, the employment of older workers and the consequent delay of retirement and exit from the labour market may adversely impact the metacognitive abilities of the ageing workforce. This is even more evident when aging subjects have to deal with new technologies, thus going through technostress symptoms. The way metacognitive abilities facilitate or prevent adaptation to these working challenges is still unclear.
Another issue that cannot be overlooked, is how ageing people are facing COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has abruptly forced people all over the world to learn new social behaviors, to adopt self-protective rules and measures, to resort to technological devices as much as possible. Since ageing people represent one of the most at-risk population for contagion and mortality, it is necessary to understand the way they adjust to this epochal event.
Therefore, we aim to collect studies shedding light on new paradigms and data from clinical and intervention research in neuroscience, social cognition, neuropsychology and psychiatry to address this gap in knowledge.

We welcome original research articles, single case studies, reviews and position papers addressing the above aims. We specifically encourage submissions addressing the following Topics:

• Neural, behavioural and neuropsychological correlates of metacognition in the aging brain;
• Peculiar aspects in the elderly of the relationship between metacognition and other high-order cognitive functions (e.g., Theory of Mind, social cognition);
• Psychometric and neurophysiological methods for investigating metacognitive function in the elderly (e.g., questionnaires, tests, EEG, MRI, tDCS etc.);
• Innovative theoretical models of physiological/pathological metacognitive mechanisms integrating previous knowledge in the field;
• Investigations of altered metacognitive abilities in clinical and pre-clinical conditions in the elderly, in particular, but not limited to, stroke, brain injury, Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias, Mild Cognitive Impairment, Subjective Cognitive Complaint;
• Investigations of metacognitive abilities of aging workforce in the working environment;
• Rehabilitative approaches for metacognition in the elderly, both in neuropsychiatric conditions and healthy contexts as a prevention tool;
• Surveys or experimental studies on ageing people facing COVID-19 pandemic (e.g., learning new self-protective behaviors and social rules, management of emotional reactions, reactions to social isolation, recourse to technological devices, etc).


Keywords: Metacognition, Ageing, Anosognosia, Self-awareness, Elderly


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Metacognition is the knowledge and reflective capacity one has concerning one’s own cognitive functioning. It serves to select and deploy methods for dealing with events, monitoring actions, correcting failures and assessing the utility of solutions. Metacognition underpins successful adaptation and self-awareness, and is modulated by emotional processes. As the worldwide increase in life expectancy compels a progressively larger segment of population to face new demands, metacognition is becoming an essential skill in the elderly. However, in reality the integration of ongoing physical, social, cognitive and emotional changes into previous self-knowledge can be extremely challenging for the elderly. These changes are far from being trivial, so the elderly can experience detrimental increases in stress levels and deleterious consequences to their mood from the aging process that can impair their metacognition. Therefore, with elderly people facing these challenges as they age, understanding how metacognitive ability can overcome these obstacles would help improve quality of life and help identify novel interventions when neuropsychiatric conditions develop.

The goal of this Research Topic is to outline a multifaceted model of metacognition in aging people. In this model, we will focus on brain structural and functional features, neuropsychological, behavioural and genetic correlates as well as protective factors underpinning physiological and pathological metacognitive phenomena in the elderly. In particular, studies of deficits in metacognition, or anosognosia, due to pathological structural and/or functional events are of upmost clinical interest. The outcomes from these studies should help with the prevention, early diagnosis and overall therapeutic aims of neurological and neuropsychiatric conditions in the elderly. Furthermore, we aim to explore how metacognition in the elderly is useful in everyday life, including aiding aging populations to maintain a presence in working environments. In fact, the employment of older workers and the consequent delay of retirement and exit from the labour market may adversely impact the metacognitive abilities of the ageing workforce. This is even more evident when aging subjects have to deal with new technologies, thus going through technostress symptoms. The way metacognitive abilities facilitate or prevent adaptation to these working challenges is still unclear.
Another issue that cannot be overlooked, is how ageing people are facing COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has abruptly forced people all over the world to learn new social behaviors, to adopt self-protective rules and measures, to resort to technological devices as much as possible. Since ageing people represent one of the most at-risk population for contagion and mortality, it is necessary to understand the way they adjust to this epochal event.
Therefore, we aim to collect studies shedding light on new paradigms and data from clinical and intervention research in neuroscience, social cognition, neuropsychology and psychiatry to address this gap in knowledge.

We welcome original research articles, single case studies, reviews and position papers addressing the above aims. We specifically encourage submissions addressing the following Topics:

• Neural, behavioural and neuropsychological correlates of metacognition in the aging brain;
• Peculiar aspects in the elderly of the relationship between metacognition and other high-order cognitive functions (e.g., Theory of Mind, social cognition);
• Psychometric and neurophysiological methods for investigating metacognitive function in the elderly (e.g., questionnaires, tests, EEG, MRI, tDCS etc.);
• Innovative theoretical models of physiological/pathological metacognitive mechanisms integrating previous knowledge in the field;
• Investigations of altered metacognitive abilities in clinical and pre-clinical conditions in the elderly, in particular, but not limited to, stroke, brain injury, Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias, Mild Cognitive Impairment, Subjective Cognitive Complaint;
• Investigations of metacognitive abilities of aging workforce in the working environment;
• Rehabilitative approaches for metacognition in the elderly, both in neuropsychiatric conditions and healthy contexts as a prevention tool;
• Surveys or experimental studies on ageing people facing COVID-19 pandemic (e.g., learning new self-protective behaviors and social rules, management of emotional reactions, reactions to social isolation, recourse to technological devices, etc).


Keywords: Metacognition, Ageing, Anosognosia, Self-awareness, Elderly


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

24 November 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

24 November 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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