Conscious perception of errors and its relation to the anterior insula

Max Planck Institute for Neurological Research, Gleueler Str. 50, 50931, Cologne, Germany.
Brain Structure and Function (Impact Factor: 4.57). 06/2010; 214(5-6):629-43. DOI: 10.1007/s00429-010-0261-1
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT To detect erroneous action outcomes is necessary for flexible adjustments and therefore a prerequisite of adaptive, goal-directed behavior. While performance monitoring has been studied intensively over two decades and a vast amount of knowledge on its functional neuroanatomy has been gathered, much less is known about conscious error perception, often referred to as error awareness. Here, we review and discuss the conditions under which error awareness occurs, its neural correlates and underlying functional neuroanatomy. We focus specifically on the anterior insula, which has been shown to be (a) reliably activated during performance monitoring and (b) modulated by error awareness. Anterior insular activity appears to be closely related to autonomic responses associated with consciously perceived errors, although the causality and directions of these relationships still needs to be unraveled. We discuss the role of the anterior insula in generating versus perceiving autonomic responses and as a key player in balancing effortful task-related and resting-state activity. We suggest that errors elicit reactions highly reminiscent of an orienting response and may thus induce the autonomic arousal needed to recruit the required mental and physical resources. We discuss the role of norepinephrine activity in eliciting sufficiently strong central and autonomic nervous responses enabling the necessary adaptation as well as conscious error perception.

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Available from: K. Richard Ridderinkhof, Sep 03, 2015
    • "Particularly, PES is reflected by longer RTs on trials following an error than on trials following a correct response (Rabbitt, 1966). PES has been noticed in a broad range of tasks (Danielmeier & Ullsperger, 2011), comprising the flanker task (Krämer et al., 2007; Debener et al., 2005), the Stroop task (Gehring & Fencsik, 2001), and the Simon task (Danielmeier, Eichele, Forstmann, Tittgemeyer, & Ullsperger, 2011; King, Korb, Von Cramon, & Ullsperger, 2010). PES has been proposed to reflect distinct mechanisms, depending on the duration of the RSI ( Jentzsch & Dudschig, 2009; see also Laming, 1979). "
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    ABSTRACT: People tend to slow down after they commit an error, a phenomenon known as post-error slowing (PES). It has been proposed that slowing after negative feedback or unforeseen errors is linked to the activity of the locus coeruleus-norepinephrine (LC-NE) system, but there is little direct evidence for this hypothesis. Here, we assessed the causal role of the noradrenergic system in modulating PES by applying transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation (tVNS), a new noninvasive and safe method to stimulate the vagus nerve and to increase NE concentrations in the brain. A single-blind, sham-controlled, between-group design was used to assess the effect of tVNS in healthy young volunteers ( n = 40) during two cognitive tasks designed to measure PES. Results showed increased PES during active tVNS, as compared to sham stimulation. This effect was of similar magnitude for the two tasks. These findings provide evidence for an important role of the noradrenergic system in PES.
    Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 07/2015; DOI:10.1162/jocn_a_00851 · 4.69 Impact Factor
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    • "Uncertainty monitoring, whether related to response-conflict, risk, or anticipated errors, correlates with some or all of a group of regions that include medial PFC, posterior parietal, ACC, PCC, and anterior insula (e.g., Botvinick, Cohen & Carter, 2004; Carter et al., 1998; Fleck et al., 2006; Grinband et al., 2006; Huettel, et al., 2005; Kable & Glimcher 2007; MacDonald et al., 2000; McCoy & Platt, 2005; Platt & Huettel, 2008; Ridderinkhof et al., 2004; Stern et al., 2010; Ullsperger et al. 2010; Volz et al., 2004). ACC is in the position to relay this uncertainty information via its strong connections with dorsal and lateral PFC, regions that have been documented to bring about behavioral adjustment or exert top-down control and that overlap with our results (Cohen et al., 1997; Fleck et al., 2006; Huettel et al., 2005; MacDonald et al., 2000; Miller & Cohen, 2001; Miller, et al., 2002; Nee, Wager & Jonides, 2007; Ridderinkhof et al., 2004; Volz et al., 2004). "
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    ABSTRACT: Humans monitor states of uncertainty that can guide decision-making. These uncertain states are evident behaviorally when humans decline to make a categorization response. Such behavioral uncertainty responses (URs) have also defined the search for metacognition in animals. While a plethora of neuroimaging studies have focused on uncertainty, the brain systems supporting a volitional strategy shift under uncertainty have not been distinguished from those observed in making introspective post-hoc reports of categorization uncertainty. Using rapid event-related fMRI, we demonstrate that the neural activity patterns elicited by humans' URs are qualitatively different from those recruited by associative processes during categorization. Participants performed a one-dimensional perceptual-categorization task in which an uncertainty-response option let them decline to make a categorization response. Uncertainty responding activated a distributed network including prefrontal cortex (PFC), anterior and posterior cingulate cortex (ACC, PCC), anterior insula, and posterior parietal areas; importantly, these regions were distinct from those whose activity was modulated by task difficulty. Generally, our results can be characterized as a large-scale cognitive control network including recently evolved brain regions such as the anterior dorsolateral and medial PFC. A metacognitive theory would view the UR as a deliberate behavioral adjustment rather than just a learned middle category response, and predicts this pattern of results. These neuroimaging results bolster previous behavioral findings, which suggested that different cognitive processes underlie responses due to associative learning versus the declaration of uncertainty. We conclude that the UR represents an elemental behavioral index of metacognition. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Cortex 07/2015; 71. DOI:10.1016/j.cortex.2015.07.028 · 6.04 Impact Factor
    • "Pe amplitudes have been interpreted to reflect elaborative error-processing which may include evaluating the motivational significance of an error (Ullsperger, et al., 2010), or potential affective reactions to an error (Overbeek, et al., 2005). Here, increased Pe amplitude is likely related to increased processing of the response error. "
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    ABSTRACT: and behavioral symptoms. In incarcerated populations, elevated psychopathic traits have been linked to increased rates of violent recidivism. Cognitive processes related to error processing have been shown to differentiate individuals with high and low psychopathic traits and may contribute to poor decision making that increases the risk of recidivism. Error processing abnormalities related to psychopathy may be due to error-monitoring (error detection) or post-error processing (error evaluation). A recent 'bottleneck' theory predicts deficiencies in post-error processing in individuals with high psychopathic traits. In the current study, incarcerated males (n = 93) performed a Go/NoGo response inhibition task while event-related potentials (ERPs) were recorded. Classic time-domain windowed component and principal component analyses were used to measure error-monitoring (as measured with the error-related negativity [ERN/Ne]) and post-error processing (as measured with the error positivity [Pe]). Psychopathic traits were assessed using Hare's Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R). PCL-R Total score, Factor 1 (interpersonal-affective traits), and Facet 3 (impulsivity traits) scores were positively related to post-error processes (i.e., increased Pe amplitude) but unrelated to error-monitoring processes (i.e., ERN/Ne). These results support the attentional bottleneck theory and further describe deficiencies related to elevated psychopathic traits that could be beneficial for new treatment strategies for psychopathy.
    Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment 07/2015; in press. · 3.54 Impact Factor
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