Neural mechanisms underlying adaptive actions after slips

J Cogn Neurosci. 2008 Sep;20(9):1595-610. doi: 10.1162/jocn.2008.20117.


An increase in cognitive control has been systematically observed in responses produced immediately after the commission of an error. Such responses show a delay in reaction time (post-error slowing) and an increase in accuracy. To characterize the neurophysiological mechanism involved in the adaptation of cognitive control, we examined oscillatory electrical brain activity by electroencephalogram and its corresponding neural network by event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging in three experiments. We identified a new oscillatory theta-beta component related to the degree of post-error slowing in the correct responses following an erroneous trial. Additionally, we found that the activity of the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, the right inferior frontal cortex, and the right superior frontal cortex was correlated with the degree of caution shown in the trial following the commission of an error. Given the overlap between this brain network and the regions activated by the need to inhibit motor responses in a stop-signal manipulation, we conclude that the increase in cognitive control observed after the commission of an error is implemented through the participation of an inhibitory mechanism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls
  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology*
  • Adult
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / blood supply
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Electroencephalography / methods
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Inhibition, Psychological
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Spectrum Analysis
  • Time Factors


  • Oxygen