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Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2009 Sep;4(3):227-37. doi: 10.1093/scan/nsp015. Epub 2009 May 19.

Negative affect induced by derogatory verbal feedback modulates the neural signature of error detection.

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Department of Neuropsychology, Otto-von-Guericke Universität Magdeburg, 39016 Magdeburg, Germany.


The present study examines the influence of induced affective state on performance monitoring. The electroencephalogram was recorded while human participants engaged in a speeded choice-reaction time task commonly used to examine performance monitoring processes. Prior to the experiment, participants were randomly allocated to receive either encouraging or derogatory feedback during task execution. Feedback was based on each participant's reaction times. Affective state was assessed prior and after the experiment with a state questionnaire. Although participants of both feedback groups loaded high on items describing tiredness in the state questionnaire, only those with derogatory feedback loaded higher on negative state items and lower on positive state items after completion of the experiment. The error-related negativity (ERN) as an index of performance monitoring was increased after derogatory feedback; this difference was not seen at the beginning of the experiment. Negative state correlated significantly with ERN amplitude. The error positivity, a later component following errors, did not differ between feedback groups. This study provides further evidence that changes in affective state influence how we monitor ongoing behavior.

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