The ERN is the ERN is the ERN? Convergent validity of error-related brain activity across different tasks

Biol Psychol. 2013 Jul;93(3):377-85. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2013.04.007. Epub 2013 Apr 19.


Error-processing is increasingly examined using the error-related negativity (ERN) and error positivity (Pe) - event-related potentials (ERPs) that demonstrate trait-like properties and excellent reliability. The current study focuses on construct validity by applying a multitrait-multimethod approach, treating error-related ERPs (i.e., ERN, Pe and the difference between error minus correct, referred to as ΔERN and ΔPe, respectively) as traits measured across multiple tasks (i.e., Flanker, Stroop, and Go/NoGo). Results suggest convergent validity of these ERPs ranging between .62 and .64 for ΔERN. Values were somewhat smaller for ERN (range .33-.43), Pe (range .37-.49) and ΔPe (range .30-.37). Further, the correlations for ERN and Pe are higher within components across tasks than between different components suggesting discriminant validity. In conclusion, the present study revealed evidence for convergent and discriminant validity of error-related ERPs, further supporting the use of these components as psychophysiological trait markers.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attention / physiology
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Decision Making
  • Electroencephalography
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inhibition, Psychological*
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Psychophysics
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Young Adult