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Error-related brain acitivty reflects : independent systems in human error monitoring


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Di Gregorio, Francesco:
Error-related brain acitivty reflects : independent systems in human error monitoring.
Eichstätt, 2019. - 173 S.
(Dissertation, 2019, Katholische Universität Eichstätt-Ingolstadt)


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Performance monitoring is a key function of human cognition and critical for

achieving goal-directed behavior. In recent years, research has particularly focused

on how the brain detects and evaluates behavioral errors. Most studies investigated

two neural correlates of performance monitoring in the human scalp EEG. In

particular, the error-related negativity (Ne/ERN) is a negative fronto-central deflection

observed immediately after an erroneous response, representing an early and

unconscious stage of error processing. The Ne/ERN is followed by the later error

positivity (Pe), a broader positivity viewed as a correlate of conscious error

processing. Whereas a large amount of research has been conducted on these

neural correlates, fundamental questions on their relationship remain. Crucially, it is

still unclear whether both components represent functionally independent processes

of error monitoring or whether the two components are part of a single mechanism.

The first possibility implies that the earlier Ne/ERN provides the basis for the later

emergence of the Pe and error awareness in a cascade-like architecture of error

monitoring. The other possibility is that the Pe and error awareness can emerge

independently of the Ne/ERN, which implies that different error monitoring

mechanisms exist and may proceed independently. The thesis addresses the

important question whether Ne/ERN provides necessary information for error

awareness and Pe. To this aim, behavioral and psychophysiological studies were


(1) In a first part, we investigated whether Ne/ERN and Pe are causally related

(study 1). We developed a novel experimental paradigm based on the classical letters flanker task. In this paradigm, participants have to classify targets but ignore

irrelevant distractors (flankers) that are always associated with an incorrect

response. Targets but not flankers are masked with varying target-masking intervals.

On some trials, no target at all is presented, thus preventing the representation of a

correct response. Importantly, the lack of a representation of the correct response

also prevents the emergence of Ne/ERN. However, because flankers are easily

visible and responses to these flankers are always incorrect, conscious detection of

these flanker errors is still possible. The presence of a Pe in the absence of Ne/ERN

for flanker errors provides evidence for independent error monitoring processes.

(2) In a second part, we investigated whether the Ne/ERN and Pe are

differentially sensitive to temporal aspects of conscious error detection. Whereas the

Pe is assumed to be the earliest correlate of the emergence of conscious error

perception, participants often report the feeling of having detected an error even

before the erroneous response was actually executed (“early error sensations”). The

first goal of this part was to investigate whether such anecdotal evidence can be

measured empirically. In study 2, a series of behavioral experiments using different

methodological procedures were conducted. Participants during choice tasks have to

report whether errors were accompanied or not by early error sensations (i.e. early

and late detected errors) or give confidence judgments about early error sensations.

Participants frequently reported early errors with high level of confidence.

Subsequently, we studied how error-related brain activity reflects the emergence of

early error sensations. In study 3, we measured EEG activity and compared early

and late detected errors. Results showed that while the Pe reliably reflects the early

error sensations (larger amplitude for early errors), the Ne/ERN does not (no

differences between early and late errors). Crucially, the Ne/ERN and the Pe

responded differently to temporal aspects of error awareness, meaning that Ne/ERN

and Pe could rely on different types of information for error detection. This again

speaks for the idea of independent systems of error monitoring.

Weitere Angaben

Publikationsform:Hochschulschrift (Dissertation)
Schlagwörter:Kognition; Denkfehler
Sprache des Eintrags:Englisch
Institutionen der Universität:Philosophisch-Pädagogische Fakultät > Psychologie > Lehrstuhl für Allgemeine Psychologie
Philosophisch-Pädagogische Fakultät > Dissertationen / Habilitationen
DOI / URN / ID:urn:nbn:de:bvb:824-opus4-5108
Titel an der KU entstanden:Ja
Eingestellt am: 20. Aug 2019 14:47
Letzte Änderung: 04. Feb 2022 08:38
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