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Brain Res. 2009 Jan 28;1251:213-22. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2008.11.024. Epub 2008 Nov 19.

Electrical brain events associated with awareness of errors.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Rm. M-794, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143-0114, USA.



The neurophysiological correlates of mental activity and awareness are important to define, as they permit the objective study of these psychological phenomena.


In a choice reaction task, subjects were asked to respond to tone pips by extending their fingers and to make non-semantic vocalizations as soon as they became aware of any errors.


In motor response-synchronized averages of instances in which subjects were aware of making errors, a biphasic cerebral potential occurred over the frontocentral scalp region 170 ms after the incorrect motor response and about 500 ms prior to any vocalization. It occurred 100 ms after the so-called error negativity (Ne), from which it was therefore distinguished.


The recording of such activity may therefore provide an electrophysiological signature of perceptual awareness related to making errors.


Recording this potential may facilitate the objective study of awareness to errors in other experimental contexts.

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