This study was made possible by a National Research Service Award from the National Institute of Health to G.F.W. (F31 MH12995) and the benevolent support of Steve Luck.
Masked targets trigger event-related potentials indexing shifts of attention but not error detection
Article first published online: 11 JAN 2010
Copyright © 2010 Society for Psychophysiological Research
Volume 47, Issue 3, pages 410–414, May 2010
How to Cite
Woodman, G. F. (2010), Masked targets trigger event-related potentials indexing shifts of attention but not error detection. Psychophysiology, 47: 410–414. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8986.2009.00948.x
- Issue published online: 6 APR 2010
- Article first published online: 11 JAN 2010
- (Received February 28, 2009; Accepted June 10, 2009)
- Unconscious processes;
- Normal volunteers
To carry out tasks with the highest possible efficiency we have developed executive mechanisms that monitor task performance and optimize cognitive processing. It has been hypothesized that these executive mechanisms operate even without conscious awareness to maximize their sensitivity to task-relevant outcomes. To test this hypothesis the present study examined the error-related negativity (ERN), an electrophysiological index of the performance-monitoring neural circuitry, during masked visual search. The findings show that representations of target objects that are processed perceptually, but not to the level of awareness, fail to elicit an ERN despite the ability of these targets to elicit a shift of attention. These findings indicate that the performance-monitoring mechanism indexed by the ERN requires target information to be processed to the level of awareness for a mismatch between stimulus and response to be detected.