Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Short Communication

Uncertain what uncertainty monitoring monitors

Victoria M. Wilkins a1, LeeAnn Cardaciotto a1 and Steven M. Platek a1
a1 Department of Psychology, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA 19102 http://


Smith et al. present a model that they suggest may clarify aspects of the phylogenetic distribution of metacognition, based on observation of what they call uncertainty monitoring. Although they suggest that their model is supported by data collected using monkeys and dolphins, their interpretation that nonhuman animal behaviors parallel thought processes in humans may be unwarranted. The model presented by Smith et al. is inconsistent with current theories and empirical findings on the comparative aspects of metacognition. We present three oversights of the model and extend our critique to include a brief discussion of animal self-awareness, as well as current neuropsychological perspectives on metacognitive processing in humans.