ERP correlates of conscious error recognition: aware and unaware errors in an antisaccade task


Dr T. Endrass, as above.


Event-related potential (ERP) studies identified the error-related negativity (Ne/ERN) and the error positivity (Pe) to be associated with performance errors. However, the functional significance of these components is not yet resolved. With the present study we intended to further investigate to what extent these components are related to error awareness. ERPs were recorded during an antisaccade task, and error awareness was obtained from accuracy ratings on each trial. In accordance with earlier findings, aware and unaware errors did not differ in Ne/ERN amplitude. Whereas the late Pe (400–600 ms) shows an increased parietal positivity for aware compared with unaware errors, the early Pe (200–300 ms) shows no dissociation between aware and unaware errors. These data lend further support to the view that the Ne/ERN and the (late) Pe reflect different processes in performance monitoring. In fact the present results provide a clear replication of [S. Nieuwenhuis et al. (2001) Psychophysiology, 38, 752–760], showing that the Pe is associated with error awareness and remedial action. Furthermore, it has been shown that this is only true for the late Pe, whereas the early Pe like the Ne/ERN is not modulated by error awareness.