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Neuroimage. 2003 Oct;20(2):1132-9.

A midline dissociation between error-processing and response-conflict monitoring.

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  • 1Department of Psychology and Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience, Trinity College, Dublin 2, Ireland.


Midline brain activation subsequent to errors has been proposed to reflect error detection and, alternatively, conflict-monitoring processes. Adjudicating between these alternatives is challenging as both predict high activation on error trials. In an effort to resolve these interpretations, subjects completed a GO/NOGO task in which errors of commission were frequent and response conflict was independently varied by manipulating response speeds. A mixed-block and event-related fMRI design identified task-related, tonic activation and event-related activations for correct and incorrect trials. The anterior cingulate was the only area with error-related activation that was not modulated by the conflict manipulation and hence is implicated in specific error-related processes. Conversely, activation in the pre-SMA was not specific to errors but was sensitive to the conflict manipulation. A significant region by conflict interaction for tonic activation supported a functional dissociation between these two midline areas. Finally, an intermediate, caudal cingulate area was implicated in both error processing and conflict monitoring. The results suggest that these two action-monitoring processes are distinct and dissociable and are localised along the midline.

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