The good, the bad and the neutral: Electrophysiological responses to feedback stimuli

Department of Psychology University of Victoria, PO Box 3050 STN CSC Victoria, Canada BC V8W 3P5. <>
Brain Research (Impact Factor: 2.84). 09/2006; 1105(1):93-101. DOI: 10.1016/j.brainres.2005.12.015
Source: PubMed


The feedback error-related negativity (fERN) is a component of the event-related brain potential elicited in gambling and trial-and-error learning tasks by negative, but not positive, feedback stimuli. Here, we present the results of a series of five experiments that investigated the response of the fERN to the presentation of neutral feedback stimuli. In three of the experiments, the neutral feedback stimuli indicated that the participants did not receive a potential reward nor incur a potential penalty (i.e., they received nothing); and in the remaining two experiments, the neutral feedback stimuli did not convey any meaningful information (i.e., the participants were either successful or unsuccessful on those trials, but the feedback stimuli were uninformative about the outcomes). Across the five experiments, we found that neutral feedback stimuli elicited a fERN about as large as that elicited by negative feedback stimuli. This result is consistent with recent proposals that the evaluative system that produces the fERN classifies outcomes into two categories: those outcomes that indicate that a goal has been satisfied and those that do not.

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    • "(1) In our primary analysis, we quantified the FRN as a peak-to-peak difference in the P2–N2 complex (Frank et al., 2005; Holroyd et al., 2006; Moser and Simons, 2009) in order to isolate ERPs related to reward and punishment on outcomes at each trial. "
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    ABSTRACT: Substantial evidence indicates that decision outcomes are typically evaluated relative to expectations learned from relatively long sequences of previous outcomes. This mechanism is thought to play a key role in general learning and adaptation processes but relatively little is known about the determinants of outcome evaluation when the capacity to learn from series of prior events is difficult or impossible. To investigate this issue, we examined how the feedback related negativity (FRN) is modulated by information briefly presented before outcome evaluation. The FRN is a brain potential time-locked to the delivery of feedback and it is widely thought to be sensitive to prior expectations. We conducted a multi-trial gambling task in which outcomes at each trial were fully randomised to minimise the capacity to learn from long sequences of prior outcomes. Event-related potentials for outcomes (Win/Loss) in the current trial (Outcomet) were separated according to the type of outcomes that occurred in the preceding two trials (Outcomet-1 and Outcomet-2). We found that FRN voltage was more positive during the processing of win feedback when it was preceded by wins at Outcomet-1 compared to win feedback preceded by losses at Outcomet-1. However, no influence of preceding outcomes was found on FRN activity relative to the processing of loss feedback. We also found no effects of Outcomet-2 on FRN amplitude relative to current feedback. Additional analyses indicated that this effect was largest for trials in which participants selected a decision different to the gamble chosen in the previous trial. These findings are inconsistent with models that solely relate the FRN to prediction error computation. Instead, our results suggest that if stable predictions about future events are weak or non-existent, then outcome processing can be determined by affective systems. More specifically, our results indicate that the FRN is likely to reflect the activity of positive affective systems in these contexts. Importantly, our findings indicate that a multifactorial explanation of the nature of the FRN is necessary and such an account must incorporate affective and motivational factors in outcome processing.
    NeuroImage 10/2015; 125. DOI:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.10.046 · 6.36 Impact Factor
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    • "FRN amplitudes were determined separately for each condition and each participant at electrode FCz by , first , determining the ampli - tude of the most negative peak between 200 and 400 ms after feed - back onset and , then , subtracting the amplitude of the most positive peak between 150 ms after feedback onset and the previ - ously determined negative peak ( Ferdinand et al . , 2012 ; Holroyd , Hajcak , & Larsen , 2006 ) . If there was no negative peak in the 200 – 400 ms time window , the FRN amplitude was taken as 0 mV . "
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    ABSTRACT: For adaptive decision-making it is important to utilize only relevant, valid and to ignore irrelevant feedback. The present study investigated how feedback processing in decision-making is impaired when relevant feedback is combined with irrelevant and potentially invalid feedback. We analyzed two electrophysiological markers of feedback processing, the feedback-related negativity (FRN) and the P300, in a simple decision-making task, in which participants processed feedback stimuli consisting of relevant and irrelevant feedback provided by the color and meaning of a Stroop stimulus. We found that invalid, irrelevant feedback not only impaired learning, it also altered the amplitude of the P300 to relevant feedback, suggesting an interfering effect of irrelevant feedback on the processing of relevant feedback. In contrast, no such effect on the FRN was obtained. These results indicate that detrimental effects of invalid, irrelevant feedback result from failures of controlled feedback processing. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    Brain and Cognition 08/2015; 99:78-86. DOI:10.1016/j.bandc.2015.07.006 · 2.48 Impact Factor
    • "Interestingly, this effect was not observed on punishment trials, and was actually backward: In response to favorable outcomes, where the participant broke even instead of losing money, a more negative FN was observed. This pattern is contrary to the extant literature (Hajcak, Moser, Holroyd, & Simons, 2006; Holroyd, Hajcak, & Larsen, 2005), and it appears to have been due to temporal overlap between the FN and fb-P3. The more positivegoing FN elicited by loss outcomes may be a product of fb-P3 tracking the joint combination of probability and valence. "
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    ABSTRACT: The monetary incentive delay (MID) task has been widely used in fMRI studies to investigate the neural networks involved in anticipatory and consummatory reward processing. Previous efforts to adapt the MID task for use with ERPs, however, have had limited success. Here, we sought to further decompose reward dynamics using a comprehensive set of anticipatory (cue-N2, cue-P3, contingent negative variation [CNV]) and consummatory ERPs (feedback negativity [FN], feedback P3 [fb-P3]). ERP data was recorded during adapted versions of the MID task across two experiments. Unlike previous studies, monetary incentive cues modulated the cue-N2, cue-P3, and CNV; however, cue-related ERPs and the CNV were uncorrelated with one another, indicating distinct anticipatory subprocesses. With regard to consummatory processing, FN amplitude primarily tracked outcome valence (reward vs. nonreward), whereas fb-P3 amplitude primarily tracked outcome salience (uncertain vs. certain). Independent modulation of the cue-P3 and fb-P3 was observed, indicating that these two P3 responses may uniquely capture the allocation of attention during anticipatory and consummatory reward processing, respectively. Overall, across two samples, consistent evidence of both anticipatory and consummatory ERP activity was observed on an adapted version of the MID paradigm, demonstrating for the first time how these ERP components may be integrated with one another to more fully characterize the time course of reward processing. This ERP-MID paradigm is well suited to parsing reward dynamics, and can be applied to both healthy and clinical populations. © 2015 Society for Psychophysiological Research.
    Psychophysiology 07/2015; DOI:10.1111/psyp.12504 · 2.99 Impact Factor
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