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Poster A111

The ERN-Anxiety correlation: a closer examination with robust statistics

Poster Session A - Saturday, April 13, 2024, 2:30 – 4:30 pm EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Zelin Chen1 (, Roxane J Itier1; 1University of Waterloo

The error-related negativity (ERN) and error positivity (Pe) are Event-Related Potentials (ERPs) associated with error monitoring. The ERN is characterized by a more negative amplitude following erroneous responses than correct responses, representing heightened error sensitivity. The Pe is more positive in amplitude for errors that an individual is aware of than unaware errors, reflecting conscious error processing. Prior work suggests a correlation between the error enhancement of the ERN and trait anxiety scores in clinical and non-clinical populations. In contrast, the correlation between Pe enhancement and anxiety is generally non-significant. However, previous studies have used classic analyses of ERPs that focus on pre-selected electrodes and time windows, inflating Type I and II error rates. The present study examined the ERN and Pe enhancement and their correlations with trait anxiety using robust mass-univariate (MU) statistics, which examines all time points at all electrodes while controlling for Type I and II errors. Eighty-two (82) neurotypical adults completed a classic flanker task. Response-locked ERPs were subjected to classic and MU analyses. In addition, we examined the effects of trial numbers, anxiety scale type, and depression severity. The classic and MU approach replicated the ERN and the Pe error enhancement. However, no association was found between the error enhancement and trait anxiety scores with either analysis for either ERP. These results question the reliability of the anxiety-ERN correlation and challenge the utility of the ERN as a vulnerability neuro-marker for anxiety.

Topic Area: EXECUTIVE PROCESSES: Monitoring & inhibitory control


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April 13–16  |  2024