Poster E31, Monday, March 27, 2:30 – 4:30 pm, Pacific Concourse
Dissociable late and early error monitoring processes: Error positivity in the absence of an error-related negativity.
Martin E. Maier1, Francesco Di Gregorio1,2, Marco Steinhauser1; 1University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt, 2Ospedale Maggiore Carlo Alberto Pizzardi di Bologna
The ability to detect one’s own errors is crucial for the optimization of performance. The error-related negativity (ERN) and the error positivity (Pe) are electrophysiological markers of early unconscious and later conscious error monitoring processes. Although both components follow each other in close succession, it is currently unknown whether the earlier ERN is necessary for the emergence of the later Pe. The goal of the present study was to test this directly by eliminating the ERN in a condition where conscious error detection is nevertheless possible and investigate whether the Pe is observable in the absence of an ERN. We used a three-choice flanker task, where participants had to classify central targets while ignoring lateral flankers. Targets and flankers always required different responses. Targets but not flankers were masked at varying intervals. Crucially, on some trials, the target was entirely replaced by the mask (target absent trials). Because the ERN requires a representation of the correct response, we predicted the ERN to be absent when errors were committed on these trials. However, because participants knew that the flankers required a different response than the target, they could nevertheless deduce that they had committed an error when the error involved responding to the flankers. The results showed no ERN but a sizeable Pe on those target absent trials where participants had responded to the flankers. This shows that the Pe can emerge also in the absence of an ERN and thus speaks for independent neural mechanisms underlying these components.
Topic Area: EXECUTIVE PROCESSES: Monitoring & inhibitory control