Oscillatory correlates of controlled speed-accuracy tradeoff in a response-conflict task

Hum Brain Mapp. 2012 Aug;33(8):1834-49. doi: 10.1002/hbm.21322. Epub 2011 May 26.


In making decisions, people have to balance between the competing demands of speed and accuracy, a balance generally referred to as the speed-accuracy tradeoff (SAT). In this study, we investigated the role of controlled SAT in a two-choice task in which manual responses were either validly or invalidly cued. Examining electrophysiological measurements of oscillatory brain activity, theta power in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), alpha power in the occipital cortex, and beta power in the motor cortex were found to be related to SAT. Because oscillatory effects of SAT were found to emanate from the SAT baseline interval preceding the two-choice task, the results indicate that SAT is modulated by a change of visuo-motor baseline activities rather than a change of response threshold. Moreover, in the two-choice task, conflict-induced theta power in the ACC was found to be more pronounced in speed than in accuracy trials, whereas priming-related beta power dynamics in the motor cortex were unaffected by SAT. These results indicate that conflict processing, but not response priming, depends on SAT.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Conflict, Psychological*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Young Adult