The human mind is extraordinary in its ability not merely to respond to events as they unfold but also to adapt its own operation in pursuit of its agenda. This ‘cognitive control’ can be achieved through simple interactions among sensorimotor processes, and through interactions in which one sensorimotor process represents a property of another in an implicit, unconscious way. So why does the human mind also represent properties of cognitive processes in an explicit way, enabling us to think and say ‘I’m sure’ or ‘I’m doubtful’? We suggest that ‘system 2 metacognition’ is for supra-personal cognitive control. It allows metacognitive information to be broadcast, and thereby to coordinate the sensorimotor systems of two or more agents involved in a shared task.
These accounts can be sketchy and inaccurate, like any narrative, but are constantly updated and sometimes improved through discussion with others. This process provides a mechanism for the modification of behavior through instructions and cultural expectations. These are powerful forces that alter the behavior of whole groups of people and provide a mechanism for the emergence of cumulative culture.