Motivation and semantic context affect brain error-monitoring activity: an event-related brain potentials study

Neuroimage. 2008 Jan 1;39(1):395-405. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2007.09.001. Epub 2007 Sep 11.


During speech production, we continuously monitor what we say. In situations in which speech errors potentially have more severe consequences, e.g. during a public presentation, our verbal self-monitoring system may pay special attention to prevent errors than in situations in which speech errors are more acceptable, such as a casual conversation. In an event-related potential study, we investigated whether or not motivation affected participants' performance using a picture naming task in a semantic blocking paradigm. Semantic context of to-be-named pictures was manipulated; blocks were semantically related (e.g., cat, dog, horse, etc.) or semantically unrelated (e.g., cat, table, flute, etc.). Motivation was manipulated independently by monetary reward. The motivation manipulation did not affect error rate during picture naming. However, the high-motivation condition yielded increased amplitude and latency values of the error-related negativity (ERN) compared to the low-motivation condition, presumably indicating higher monitoring activity. Furthermore, participants showed semantic interference effects in reaction times and error rates. The ERN amplitude was also larger during semantically related than unrelated blocks, presumably indicating that semantic relatedness induces more conflict between possible verbal responses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motivation*
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Reaction Time / physiology*
  • Semantics
  • Speech / physiology*