Outcome expectancy and not accuracy determines posterror slowing: ERP support

Cogn Affect Behav Neurosci. 2010 May;10(2):270-8. doi: 10.3758/CABN.10.2.270.


A considerable number of studies have recently used event-related potentials (ERPs) to investigate the mechanisms underlying error processing. Nevertheless, how these mechanisms are associated with behavioral adjustments following errors remains unclear. In the present study, we investigated how posterror slowing is linked to outcome expectations and error feedback. We used an adaptive four-choice reaction time task to manipulate outcome expectancy. Behaviorally, the results show posterror slowing when errors are unexpected and post-correct slowing when correct responses are unexpected, indicating that outcome expectancy is crucial for post-error slowing. ERP analyses revealed that the error-related negativity and the feedback-related negativity were not correlated with the behavioral reaction time pattern, whereas the P3 was. The results support the hypothesis that posterror slowing is caused by attentional orienting to unexpected events.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Evoked Potentials
  • Executive Function / physiology*
  • Feedback, Psychological / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Reaction Time
  • Regression Analysis
  • Scalp / physiology
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult