The dynamics of error processing in the human brain as reflected by high-gamma activity in noninvasive and intracranial EEG

Neuroimage. 2018 Jun;173:564-579. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.01.059. Epub 2018 Feb 20.


Error detection in motor behavior is a fundamental cognitive function heavily relying on local cortical information processing. Neural activity in the high-gamma frequency band (HGB) closely reflects such local cortical processing, but little is known about its role in error processing, particularly in the healthy human brain. Here we characterize the error-related response of the human brain based on data obtained with noninvasive EEG optimized for HGB mapping in 31 healthy subjects (15 females, 16 males), and additional intracranial EEG data from 9 epilepsy patients (4 females, 5 males). Our findings reveal a multiscale picture of the global and local dynamics of error-related HGB activity in the human brain. On the global level as reflected in the noninvasive EEG, the error-related response started with an early component dominated by anterior brain regions, followed by a shift to parietal regions, and a subsequent phase characterized by sustained parietal HGB activity. This phase lasted for more than 1 s after the error onset. On the local level reflected in the intracranial EEG, a cascade of both transient and sustained error-related responses involved an even more extended network, spanning beyond frontal and parietal regions to the insula and the hippocampus. HGB mapping appeared especially well suited to investigate late, sustained components of the error response, possibly linked to downstream functional stages such as error-related learning and behavioral adaptation. Our findings establish the basic spatio-temporal properties of HGB activity as a neural correlate of error processing, complementing traditional error-related potential studies.

Keywords: Cognitive control; Error processing; Error-related brain activity; High-gamma; Intracranial EEG; Noninvasive EEG.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping / methods
  • Electrocorticography
  • Electroencephalography
  • Female
  • Gamma Rhythm / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Young Adult