Errors without conflict: implications for performance monitoring theories of anterior cingulate cortex

Brain Cogn. 2004 Nov;56(2):267-76. doi: 10.1016/j.bandc.2004.06.007.


Recent theories of the neural basis of performance monitoring have emphasized a central role for the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). Replicating an earlier event-related potential (ERP) study, which showed an error feedback negativity that was modeled as having an ACC generator, we used event-related fMRI to investigate whether the ACC would differentiate between correct and incorrect feedback stimuli in a time estimation task. The design controlled for response conflict and frequency and expectancy effects. Although participants in the current study adjusted their performance following error feedback, we did not observe error feedback-evoked ACC activity. In contrast, we did observe ACC activity while the same subjects performed the Stroop task, in which an area of the ACC activated during both conflict and error trials. These findings are inconsistent with previous dipole models of the error feedback negativity, and suggest the ACC may not be involved in the generation of this ERP component. These results question involvement of the ACC in the detection of errors per se when controlling for conflict.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Conflict, Psychological*
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Inhibition, Psychological*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Psychological Theory
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Reference Values
  • Time Perception / physiology*