Neural mechanisms and temporal dynamics of performance monitoring

Trends Cogn Sci. 2014 May;18(5):259-67. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2014.02.009. Epub 2014 Mar 19.


Successful goal-directed behavior critically depends on performance monitoring, a set of cognitive and affective functions determining whether adaptive control is needed and, if so, which type and magnitude is required. Knowledge of the brain structures involved in such a process has grown enormously, although the time course of performance-monitoring (PM) activity remains poorly understood. Here, we review evidence from EEG recordings in humans and show that monitored events elicit a rather uniform sequence of cortical activity reflecting the detection, accumulation, and weighting of evidence for the necessity to adapt and (re)act. We link the EEG findings with invasive and pharmacological findings and evaluate the neurobiological plausibility of current theories of PM.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • Electroencephalography
  • Evoked Potentials
  • Humans
  • Neurophysiological Monitoring*
  • Nonlinear Dynamics*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology


  • Dopamine