Cortical microcircuitry of performance monitoring

Nat Neurosci. 2019 Feb;22(2):265-274. doi: 10.1038/s41593-018-0309-8. Epub 2019 Jan 14.


The medial frontal cortex enables performance monitoring, indexed by the error-related negativity (ERN) and manifested by performance adaptations. We recorded electroencephalogram over and neural spiking across all layers of the supplementary eye field, an agranular cortical area, in monkeys performing a saccade-countermanding (stop signal) task. Neurons signaling error production, feedback predicting reward gain or loss, and delivery of fluid reward had different spike widths and were concentrated differently across layers. Neurons signaling error or loss of reward were more common in layers 2 and 3 (L2/3), whereas neurons signaling gain of reward were more common in layers 5 and 6 (L5/6). Variation of error- and reinforcement-related spike rates in L2/3 but not L5/6 predicted response time adaptation. Variation in error-related spike rate in L2/3 but not L5/6 predicted ERN magnitude. These findings reveal novel features of cortical microcircuitry supporting performance monitoring and confirm one cortical source of the ERN.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Female
  • Macaca
  • Male
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Saccades / physiology