Toward a More Sophisticated Response Representation in Theories of Medial Frontal Performance Monitoring: The Effects of Motor Similarity and Motor Asymmetries
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Cognitive control in the posterior medial frontal cortex (pMFC) is formulated in models that emphasize adaptive behavior driven by a computation evaluating the degree of difference between 2 conflicting responses. These functions are manifested by an event-related brain potential component coined the error-related negativity (ERN). We hypothesized that the ERN represents a regulative rather than evaluative pMFC process, exerted over the error motor representation, expediting the execution of a corrective response. We manipulated the motor representations of the error and the correct response to varying degrees. The ERN was greater when 1) the error response was more potent than when the correct response was more potent, 2) more errors were committed, 3) fewer and slower corrections were observed, and 4) the error response shared fewer motor features with the correct response. In their current forms, several prominent models of the pMFC cannot be reconciled with these findings. We suggest that a prepotent, unintended error is prone to reach the manual motor processor responsible for response execution before a nonpotent, intended correct response. In this case, the correct response is a correction and its execution must wait until the error is aborted. The ERN may reflect pMFC activity that aimed to suppress the error.
author list (cited authors)
Hochman, E. Y., Orr, J. M., & Gehring, W. J.