Error-related negativity predicts academic performance

Department of Psychology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Psychophysiology (Impact Factor: 3.18). 09/2009; 47(1):192-6. DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-8986.2009.00877.x
Source: PubMed


Activity in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) has been linked to the processes of error detection and conflict monitoring, along with the subsequent engagement of cognitive-control mechanisms. The error-related negativity (ERN) is an electrophysiological signal associated with this ACC monitoring process, occurring approximately 100 ms after an error is made. The current study examined the possibility that individual differences in ERN magnitude would predict performance outcomes related to cognitive control. Undergraduate students completed a color-naming Stroop task while their neural activity was recorded via electroencephalogram. Results indicated that a larger ERN following errors was significantly correlated with better academic performance as measured by official student transcripts. A greater ability to monitor performance and engage cognitive-control mechanisms when needed thus appears associated with improved real-world performance.


Available from: Michael Inzlicht
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    • "FACIAL EMG RELATES TO PE 4 including health, academic performance, well-being, stress regulation, longevity, financial stability, and relationship satisfaction (Baumeister, Heatherton, & Tice, 1994; Compton et al., 2008; Duckworth & Seligman, 2005; Hirsch & Inzlicht, 2010; Moffitt et al., 2010). "
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    ABSTRACT: Emerging research in social and affective neuroscience has implicated a role for affect and motivation in performance-monitoring and cognitive control. No study, however, has investigated whether facial electromyography (EMG) over the corrugator supercilii—a measure associated with negative affect and the exertion of effort—is related to neural performance monitoring. Here, we explored these potential relationships by simultaneously measuring the error-related negativity (ERN), error positivity (Pe), and facial EMG over the corrugator supercilii muscle during a punished, inhibitory control task. We found evidence for increased facial EMG activity over the corrugator immediately following error responses, and this activity was related to the Pe for both between- and within-subject analyses. These results are consistent with the idea that early, avoidance-motivated processes are associated with performance monitoring, and that such processes may also be related to orienting towards errors, the emergence of error awareness, or both.
    Psychophysiology 09/2015; DOI:10.1111/psyp.12556 · 3.18 Impact Factor
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    • "Further, a growing body of research links the magnitude of the ERN to self-regulatory capacities more generally. For instance, an enhanced ERN has been linked to better control of racist impulses (Amodio et al., 2008), better academic performance (Hirsh and Inzlicht, 2010), and improved ability to cognitively regulate daily stress (Compton et al., 2008). While somewhat sparsely filled out, the cognitive control/ performance monitoring domain in the RDoC matrix also includes serotonin transporter-linked promoter region (5-HTTLPR) as a gene, the ACC as a circuit, post-error or post-conflict adjustments in performance as behaviors, and scores on the Yale–Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (YBOCS; Goodman et al., 1989) as self-report. "
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    ABSTRACT: The ability to detect and respond to errors is critical to successful adaptation to a changing environment. The error-related negativity (ERN), an event-related potential (ERP) component, is a well-validated neural response to errors and reflects the error monitoring activity of the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). Additionally, the ERN is implicated in several processes key to adaptive functioning. Abnormalities in error-related brain activity have been linked to multiple forms of psychopathology and individual differences. As such, the component is likely to be useful in NIMH's Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) initiative to establish biologically-meaningful dimensions of psychological dysfunction, and currently appears as a unit of measurement in three RDoC domains: Positive Valence Systems, Negative Valence Systems, and Cognitive Systems. In this review paper, we introduce the ERN and discuss evidence related to its psychometric properties, as well as important task differences. Following this, we discuss evidence linking the ERN to clinically diverse forms of psychopathology, as well as the implications of one unit of measurement appearing in multiple RDoC dimensions. And finally, we discuss important future directions, as well as research pathways by which the ERN might be leveraged to track the ways in which dysfunction of multiple neural systems interact to influence psychological well-being. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier B.V.
    International journal of psychophysiology: official journal of the International Organization of Psychophysiology 03/2015; DOI:10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2015.02.029 · 2.88 Impact Factor
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    • "Emerging research indicates that childhood obesity and teen alcoholism are reduced among people who can effectively monitor goal conflicts, as assessed using the ERN (Skoranski et al., 2013; Smith & Mattick, 2013). The ERN has further been related to the ability to control one's emotions (Compton et al., 2008) and to college achievement (Hirsh & Inzlicht, 2010). People who set autonomous or self-aligned goals have particularly high ERNs, which may be why these same people have superior selfcontrol (Legault & Inzlicht, 2013). "
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    ABSTRACT: There has been a rush of research on self-control in the past decade. And it is no wonder: Self-control is thought to underlie an impressive array of behavior, and its fail-ure, the root of societal ills ranging from financial debt to marital infidelity, from obesity to criminality (Baumeister, Heatherton, & Tice, 1994). Self-control—known colloqui-ally as willpower and more formally as executive function—refers to the mental processes that allow peo-ple to overcome urges, juggle competing tasks, and sus-tain attention. Part of the excitement surrounding this research is the promise of what it can uncover: By studying how self-control works, we can discover how to improve it. Many of us would like to know how to better control our behavior, and reducing self-control to its basic operations may facilitate this. Here, we provide a framework that helps organize various methods that have been used to improve self-control. We expand upon the well-known cybernetic model of control by identifying various overlooked mechanisms relevant to self-control. Cybernetic principles suggest that control relies on three separate processes: setting goals, monitoring when behavior conflicts with these goals, and implementing behavior that supports these goals. We hone in on each of these processes and integrate impor-tant features within each stage, including setting the " right kind " of goals; the role of conflict detection, atten-tion, and emotional acceptance in goal monitoring; and the effects of fatigue and intentions on implementing changes in behavior. By revealing self-control as jointly reliant on these diverse processes, we suggest some ways in which this difficult-to-master skill can be developed.
    Current Directions in Psychological Science 10/2014; 23(4):302-307. DOI:10.1177/0963721414534256 · 3.93 Impact Factor
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