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: 5.62). 06/2010; 214(5-6):629-43. DOI: 10.1007/s00429-010-0261-1
Source: PubMed


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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    • "Our data are not consistent with this idea since AI exhibited stronger responses on error trials, in addition to an early increase of activity induced by the salient cues. This electrophysiological pattern may support an account of AI activity that would incorporate over time the effects of stimulus saliency and error-related signals (such as errorawareness ).This interpretation is consistent with several noninvasive neuroimaging studies that either show similar functional responses in AI using an identical paradigm (Ramautar et al. 2006;Sharp et al. 2010) or that report a similar gradient of response within AI with higher BOLD responses when contrasting error to novelty processes (Wessel et al. 2012) or conscious to unconscious errors (Ullsperger et al. 2010;Klein et al. 2013;Charles et al. 2014). Distinguishing pure error-related components from subjective saliency effects that arise in the context of error awareness is by definition a much more complex endeavor. "
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    ABSTRACT: The ability to monitor our own errors is mediated by a network that includes dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC) and anterior insula (AI). However, the dynamics of the underlying neurophysiological processes remain unclear. In particular, whether AI is on the receiving or driving end of the error-monitoring network is unresolved. Here, we recorded intracerebral electroencephalography signals simultaneously from AI and dmPFC in epileptic patients while they performed a stop-signal task. We found that errors selectively modulated broadband neural activity in human AI. Granger causality estimates revealed that errors were immediately followed by a feedforward influence from AI onto anterior cingulate cortex and, subsequently, onto presupplementary motor area. The reverse pattern of information flow was observed on correct responses. Our findings provide the first direct electrophysiological evidence indicating that the anterior insula rapidly detects and conveys error signals to dmPFC, while the latter might use this input to adapt behavior following inappropriate actions.
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    • "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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    • "e l s e v i e r . c o m / l o c a t e / y n i m g unique ability to integrate diverse cortical and subcortical inputs, as supported by both a variety of multi-sensory and thalamic posterior inputs and anterior projections to cingulate, prefrontal, and brain-stem nuclei (Craig, 2003, 2005; Ullsperger et al., 2010). The right AIC in particular is richly interconnected with primary visceral and somatosensory areas such as posterior insula and somatosensory cortex (Cerliani et al., 2012; Chang et al., 2013), anticipates the sensory and affective consequences of touch (Lovero et al., 2009), and has been described as a central node in a right-lateralized body-related network (Craig, 2005). "

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