Get access

Heritability of frontal brain function related to action monitoring


  • This work was supported by the grants DA00421 and DA018899 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Address reprint requests to: Andrey P. Anokhin, Ph.D., Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine, 660 S. Euclid Ave, Campus Box 8134, St. Louis, MO 63108, USA. E-mail:


Monitoring the correspondence between the intended and actually executed action, a fundamental mechanism of behavioral regulation, is reflected by error-related negativity (ERN), an ERP component generated by the anterior cingulate cortex. This study examined genetic influences on the ERN and other components related to action monitoring (correct negativity, CRN, and error positivity, Pe). A flanker task was administered to adolescent twins (age 12) including 99 monozygotic (MZ) and 175 dizygotic (DZ) pairs. Genetic analysis showed substantial heritability of all three ERP components (40%–60%) and significant genetic correlations between them. This study provides the first evidence for heritable individual differences in the neural substrates of action monitoring and suggests that ERN, CRN, and Pe can potentially serve as endophenotypes for genetic studies of personality traits and psychopathology associated with abnormal regulation of behavior.