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Self Awareness

Research theme

Self Awareness

We use neuroimaging to ask:


  • We recognise our own thoughts and behaviours and reflect on our own mistakes
  • Self-awareness helps to control our behaviour and seek help on difficult tasks
  • People form and change their beliefs about their skills and abilities
  • Confidence in our own decisions influences our behaviour and interactions with others
  • Self-awareness changes in psychiatric and neurological disorders and how it can be restored to improve mental health
  • Damage to brain regions associated with self-awareness affects other functions

Our goal is to provide:

Computational models that:

  • quantify and link the answers to these questions
  • provide new insights into the neural basis for self-awareness
  • allow us to assess and improve self-awareness in psychiatric and neurological disorders


Our research into the neural mechanisms underlying self-awareness aims to benefit patients with:

  • Dementia
  • Addiction
  • Psychosis
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Depression
  • Brain injury

Recent findings

  • Our group was the first to discover a link between self-awareness and the structure and function of the anterior prefrontal cortex (Fleming et al., 2010; Fleming et al., 2012)
  • We have demonstrated a causal role for the anterior prefrontal cortex in self-awareness, by showing that damage to this region impairs self-awareness but not other aspects of cognitive function (Fleming et al., 2014)
  • We have studied the distinct contributions of different prefrontal subregions to self-awareness, identifying distinct brain signals that support confidence formation, communication and control across various domains of cognition (Bang & Fleming, 2018; Morales et al., 2018; Fleming et al., 2018)
  • We have identified specific and widespread relationships between mental health and self-awareness, indicating it as a target for future intervention (Rouault et al., 2018)
  • We have developed a comprehensive computational model that can accommodate dissociations between performance and self-awareness (Fleming & Daw, 2017)
  • We have revealed how we learn about our abilities over time (Rouault et al., 2019), and how we use confidence estimates to decide whether to seek help with difficult tasks (Hu et al., 2019)

Teams in this research area