Error-processing deficits in patients with cocaine dependence

Biol Psychol. 2007 Apr;75(1):45-51. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2006.11.003. Epub 2006 Dec 29.


Cocaine abuse and addiction can be characterized by a persisting use of cocaine in the face of adverse consequences. In the present study we focus on one specific element of adverse consequences: the making of errors. The aim of this study was to determine whether cocaine-dependent persons have error-processing deficits as measured using error-related negativity (ERN) and error positivity (Pe). Event-related potentials (ERPs) during an Eriksen flanker task were recorded from cocaine-dependent patients and a control group. Cocaine-addicted patients showed reduced ERN and Pe components as compared to a control group. On the behavioral level, patients showed reduced post-error accuracy improvement. The present findings reveal that cocaine addiction is associated with reduced error processing and impaired behavioral correction of errors after an error is made. These deficits may be associated with a compromised dopamine system. It is argued that these cognitive deficits may contribute to the maintenance of the cocaine addiction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / drug effects*
  • Awareness / drug effects
  • Awareness / physiology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebral Cortex / drug effects
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology
  • Cocaine / toxicity*
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / physiopathology
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / psychology*
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Contingent Negative Variation / physiology
  • Discrimination Learning / drug effects*
  • Electroencephalography / drug effects
  • Evoked Potentials / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / drug effects*
  • Psychomotor Performance / drug effects
  • Reaction Time / drug effects
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted


  • Cocaine