Ok folks lets have something a little different and something back to the roots of what this blog was meant to be about. During my first year of psychology I have found that one of the areas which interested me the most is Cognition. I love Cognition, I love the systematic way in which we analyse perspection, memory and behaviour (and many more things of course). One element of Cognition that did strike my attention whilst I was researching for my report on obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) was Metacognition. Metacogniton looks at the self awareness of thought (‘knowing about knowing’) or the ‘cognition of cognition’ differing slightly from cognition on a whole which looks at the creation of thoughts and behaviours (Metcalfe & Shimamura, 1994). Most of you are aware (especially if you’re involved with psychology) of cognition and that all animals have it (Animal feels hungry>Animal knows food will solve this problem>Animal eats food) but one thing us humans have which differs from the rest of the animal kingdon is we have Metacognition. With this Metacognition we can analyse our thoughts and we are aware that we are in turn having thoughts.
One element to the human ability to ‘think about thoughts’ is through our large (by surface area) Parietal lobe. The Parietal lobe is greatly responsible for integrating sensory information, giving us knowledge of numbers and in the manipulation of objects and is believed to be largely responsible for ‘Higher thinking’ or “makes sense of senses” (Ball, 1998).
<above is a picture of the brain with the Parietal lobe highlighted and labeled>
Metacogniton is used when analysing or treating OCD as it tries to establish the thoughts themselves rather than the attributions the sufferer places on their thoughts. The two main Metacognitive ‘belief systems’ in OCD are the need to control thoughts and the importance of thoughts.
The need to control thoughts (Tolin, Worhunsky, Brady & Maltby, 2007) looks at the sufferers over estimation of the importance of their thoughts increasing the need to control it.
The importance of thoughts (Rachman, 1997) looks at the sufferer’s belief that the thought itself is so repugnant, morbid or offensive it shows a hidden element to their own character that they dislike and must control.
A Metacognitive model for OCD was created by Myers, Fisher & Wells (2009) which helps break down the ‘belief system’ even further. This Metacognitive model was broken down into:
Thought-Action Fusion (TAF) which is the belief certain thoughts will lead uncontrollably to the commission of actions for example thinking you will kill your loved ones would mean that you killing your loved ones will happen.
Thought-Event Fusion (TEF) which is the belief that having a thought will cause an event, has caused an event or is causing an event to happen so similar to TAF but not as personalised assuming the thought of a loved one being hurt in a car crash is inevitable due to the thought itself.
Thought-Object Fusion (TOF) which is the belief that thoughts, memories and feelings can be passed into or caught from an object.
There is soo much more to do with Cognition, Metacognition and OCD but I wanted to give what I had found with my interpretations and understandings….and I couldn’t help throwing in a bit on OCD itself as I think its easier to understand a subject when you can put it into context. I hope you all enjoyed it and I have introduced you to the wonder that is Metacognition
Ball, J. (1998). A Comparison of Primate and Dolphin Intelligence as a Metaphor for the Validity of Comparative Studies of Intelligence. Retrieved 24th July, 2011, from http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/bb/neuro/neuro98/202s98-paper3/Ball3.html
Metcalfe, J., & Shimamura, A. P. (1994). Metacogniton: knowing about knowing. Cambridge, U.S.A.: MIT Press
Myers, S. G., Fisher, P. L., & Wells, A. (2009). Metacogniton and Cognition as Predictors of Obsessive-Compulsive Symptoms: A Prospective Study. International Journal of Cognitive Therapy, 2(2), 132-142
Rachman, S. J. (1997). A cognitive theory of obsessions. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 35, 793-802
Tolin, D. F., Worhunsky, P., Brady, R. E., & Maltby, N. (2007). The relationship between obsessive beliefs and thought-control strategies in a clinical sample. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 31(3), 307-318