Motor conflict and error saliency: The ERN predicts post-error reductions in P1 at short response-stimulus intervals
Paul Beatty1, George Buzzell1,2, Daniel Roberts1, Craig McDonald1; 1George Mason University, 2University of Maryland
Empirical research demonstrates that when the time following error commission is constrained, subsequent sensory processing can be impaired (Buzzell et al., 2017). This reduction in sensory processing is presumably due to a bottleneck for cognitive resources produced by an overlap between error processing and subsequent stimulus processing. This finding suggests that, at least within the context of a difficult visual discrimination task, the system dedicated to improving task performance, can actually be the source of performance failures. However, it remains unclear whether this phenomenon is generalizable to other contexts such as those in which motor conflict is the primary source of performance failures. In the present study, event-related potentials and behavioral measures were recorded while participants performed a modified version of a Simon task in which the duration of the response-stimulus interval (RSI) was varied. We found that the depth of error processing was associated with reduced sensory processing at short (200-533 ms), but not long (866-1200 ms) RSIs, providing confirmatory evidence of a bottleneck for cognitive resources when error activity and subsequent stimulus processing overlap. Contrary to previous findings however, the error-related negativity, as opposed to the error positivity, modulated sensory processing on the subsequent trial, possibly because error salience is greater in a task that produces motor conflict as opposed to stimulus uncertainty. This suggests that although error processing in tasks eliciting motor conflict and stimulus ambiguity might utilize different neural processes to elicit cognitive control, the impact on subsequent sensory processing remains the same.
Topic Area: EXECUTIVE PROCESSES: Monitoring & inhibitory control