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Psychophysiology. 2009 May;46(3):531-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8986.2009.00790.x. Epub 2009 Feb 17.

To P(E) or not to P(E): a P3-like ERP component reflecting the processing of response errors.

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Amsterdam Center for the Study of Adaptive Control in Brain and Behavior, Department of Psychology, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


ERP studies have highlighted several electrocortical components that can be observed when people make errors. We propose that the P(E) reflects processes functionally similar to those reflected in the P3 and that the P(E) and P3 should covary. We speculate that these processes refer to the motivational significance of rare target stimuli in case of the P3 and of salient performance errors in case of the P(E). Here we investigated whether P(E) amplitude after errors in a Simon task is correlated specifically to varying target-target intervals in a visual oddball task, a factor known to parametrically affect P3 amplitude. The amplitude of the P(E), but not the N(E), was observed to covary with the effect of target-target interval on P3 amplitude. The specificity of this novel finding supports the notion that the P(E) and P3 reflect similar neurocognitive processes as possibly involved in the conscious processing of motivationally significant events.

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