On the positive side of error processing: error-awareness positivity revisited.

Department of Cognitive Science, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel.
European Journal of Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 3.67). 05/2009; 29(7):1522-32. DOI: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2009.06690.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Performance errors are indexed in the brain even if they are not consciously registered, as demonstrated by the error-related negativity (ERN or Ne) event-related potential. It has recently been shown that another response-locked potential, the error positivity (Pe), follows the Ne, but only in those trials in which the participants consciously detect making the error ('Aware Errors'). In the present study we generalize these findings to an auditory task and investigate possible caveats in the interpretation of the Pe as an index of error awareness. In an auditory Go/No-Go error-awareness task (auditory EAT) participants pressed an additional 'fix error' button after noticing that they had made an error. As in visual tasks, the Ne was similar for aware ('fixed') and unaware ('unfixed') errors, while the Pe was enhanced only for Aware Errors. Within subjects, the Ne and Pe behaved in similar fashions for auditory and visual errors. A control condition confirmed that the awareness effect was not due to the requirement to report error awareness. These results reinforce the evidence in favor of the Pe as a correlate of conscious error processing, and imply that this process is not modality-specific. Nevertheless, single-trial analysis suggested that the Pe may be a delayed P3b related to stimulus processing rather than to response monitoring.

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