Event-Related Potentials to Different Feedback Stimuli


  • The authors wish to thank Tony Gaillard and Daniel Ruchkin for helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper. We are grateful to Ton Aalbers for technical assistance and Uli Chwilla for graphical support.

  • A shorter version of this paper was presented at the sixteenth meeting of the Psychophysiological Society, London, December, 1988.

Address requests for reprints to: Dorothee J. Chwilla, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Wundtlaan, 6525 XD Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


Event-related potentials (ERPs) were recorded in a time estimation task under different feedback conditions, in which the informative value of the feedback signals (true versus false) was manipulated. A control condition was added in which no signal was presented. Fifteen subjects pressed a button 3 seconds after presentation of a warning signal. Two seconds after the response, a visual feedback signal was presented, indicating whether the preceding interval was estimated correctly. Two different slow waves were observed: the response was preceded by a readiness potential and the feedback stimulus was preceded by a negative slow wave called the stimulus-preceding negativity. The readiness potential was not influenced by the different feedback conditions. The stimulus-preceding negativity was larger in the true feedback condition compared to the false feedback and no feedback conditions. The P300 to the feedback signal was also larger following a true as compared to a false feedback signal. The conclusion is that the stimulus-preceding negativity is an anticipatory component contingent upon the presentation of an informative feedback signal.