Error-negativity and positivity as they relate to other ERP indices of attentional control and stimulus processing

Biol Psychol. 2001 Jun;56(3):191-206. doi: 10.1016/s0301-0511(01)00080-1.


We compared individual differences in the ERP associated with incorrect responses in a discrimination task with other ERP components associated with attentional control and stimulus discrimination (N2, P3, CNV). Trials with errors that are detected by the subject normally produce a negativity (N(E)) immediately following the response followed by a positivity (P(E)). The morphology of the N(E) and the P(E) is similar to that of the standard N2-P3 complex on correct discrimination trials. Our findings suggest that the P(E) is a P3 response to the internal detection of errors. The N(E), however, appears to be distinct from the N2. Finally, even though both the contingent negative variation (CNV) and the N(E) are associated with prefrontal cortex and the allocation of attention to response accuracy, the N(E) and CNV did not relate to one another.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Discrimination Learning
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Processes / physiology*
  • Task Performance and Analysis