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Biol Psychol. 2003 Oct;64(1-2):119-41.

Anatomy of an error: ERP and fMRI.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA.


Successful inhibition of pre-potent responses involves conflict; failed inhibition involves both conflict and errors, complicating the study of errors. Event-related potential (ERP) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data were collected while ten subjects (26-55 years old) performed a Go/NoGo task, with pre-potent responses (88% Go) and inhibition of responses (12% NoGo). We measured error-related negativity (ERN) to false alarms (FA), correct-related negativity (CRN) to hits, NoGo N2 to correct rejections (CR) and Go N2 to hits. ERP difference scores were derived (ERN-CRN; NoGoN2-GoN2) for correlating with fMRI contrasts (FA-hits; CR-hits). Age effects were removed from ERN and N2 difference scores, and conflict effects, reflected in N2 difference scores, were removed from ERN. The resulting ERN correlated with fMRI activations in both caudal and rostral anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), while N2 correlated with fMRI activations in caudal ACC and in executive control regions including dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Thus, error and conflict monitoring may be dissociable, subserved by both overlapping and distinct ACC regions.

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