Neural mechanisms involved in error processing: a comparison of errors made with and without awareness

Neuroimage. 2005 Sep;27(3):602-8. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2005.04.035.


The ability to detect an error in one's own performance and then to improve ongoing performance based on this error processing is critical for effective behaviour. In our event-related fMRI experiment, we show that explicit awareness of a response inhibition commission error and subsequent post-error behaviour were associated with bilateral prefrontal and parietal brain activation. Activity in the anterior cingulate region, typically associated with error detection, was equivalent for both errors subjects were aware of and those they were not aware of making. While anterior cingulate activation has repeatedly been associated with error-related processing, these results suggest that, in isolation, it is not sufficient for conscious awareness of errors or post-error adaptation of response strategies. Instead, it appears, irrespective of awareness, to detect information about stimuli/responses that requires interpretation in other brain regions for strategic implementation of post-error adjustments of behaviour.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Awareness / physiology*
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / physiology
  • Color Perception / physiology
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology