Errors Disrupt Subsequent Early Attentional Processes

PLoS One. 2016 Apr 6;11(4):e0151843. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0151843. eCollection 2016.


It has been demonstrated that target detection is impaired following an error in an unrelated flanker task. These findings support the idea that the occurrence or processing of unexpected error-like events interfere with subsequent information processing. In the present study, we investigated the effect of errors on early visual ERP components. We therefore combined a flanker task and a visual discrimination task. Additionally, the intertrial interval between both tasks was manipulated in order to investigate the duration of these negative after-effects. The results of the visual discrimination task indicated that the amplitude of the N1 component, which is related to endogenous attention, was significantly decreased following an error, irrespective of the intertrial interval. Additionally, P3 amplitude was attenuated after an erroneous trial, but only in the long-interval condition. These results indicate that low-level attentional processes are impaired after errors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Evoked Potentials
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Reaction Time / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*
  • Young Adult

Grant support

The work of LVDB and WN is supported by FWO-Vlaanderen (FWO grant 3G076911, The work of HS is supported by the Ghent University Multidisciplinary Research Platform “The integrative neuroscience of behavioral control” ( The work of BB is supported by a European Research Council under the European Community's Seventh Framework Program (FP/2007-2013 Grant Agreement no. 241077, The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.