Journal article

Spatio-temporal brain dynamics mediating post-error behavioral adjustments

Optimal behavior relies on flexible adaptation to environmental requirements, notably based on the detection of errors. The impact of error detection on subsequent behavior typically manifests as a slowing down of RTs following errors. Precisely how errors impact the processing of subsequent stimuli and in turn shape behavior remains unresolved. To address these questions, we used an auditory spatial go/no-go task where continual feedback informed participants of whether they were too slow. We contrasted auditory-evoked potentials to left-lateralized go and right no-go stimuli as a function of performance on the preceding go stimuli, generating a 2 × 2 design with "preceding performance" (fast hit [FH], slow hit [SH]) and stimulus type (go, no-go) as within-subject factors. SH trials yielded SH trials on the following trials more often than did FHs, supporting our assumption that SHs engaged effects similar to errors. Electrophysiologically, auditory-evoked potentials modulated topographically as a function of preceding performance 80-110 msec poststimulus onset and then as a function of stimulus type at 110-140 msec, indicative of changes in the underlying brain networks. Source estimations revealed a stronger activity of prefrontal regions to stimuli after successful than error trials, followed by a stronger response of parietal areas to the no-go than go stimuli. We interpret these results in terms of a shift from a fast automatic to a slow controlled form of inhibitory control induced by the detection of errors, manifesting during low-level integration of task-relevant features of subsequent stimuli, which in turn influences response speed.


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