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Theta synchrony supports Weber–Fechner and Stevens' Laws for error processing, uniting high and low mental processes


  • We would like to thank Yoav Kessler for his important statistical recommendation and Desiree Meloul for her professional and generous help. This study was supported by the United States–Israel Bi-national Science Foundation, grant 2005133, to Andrea Berger and Michael I. Posner.

Address reprint requests to: Andrea Berger, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, P.O.B. 653, Beer Sheva, 84105, Israel. E-mail:


Human brain theta rhythm has been related to the operation of a generic mechanism involved in error detection processes of different types (e.g., detecting incorrect motor responses or incorrect arithmetic equations). This theta activity seems to be sensitive to error salience or magnitude, that is, stronger theta activity is found with larger or more deviant errors (e.g., 1+2=8) than with smaller or less deviant ones (e.g., 1+2=4). A time-frequency decomposition analysis indicated that theta activity is modulated by the magnitude of erroneous information in a nonlinear fashion, which can be characterized using Weber–Fechner's law of logarithmic function and Stevens' law of power function. The present study suggests that the generic mechanisms for error detection and evaluation may share similar fundamental neural schemes with primary cognitive and sensory or perceptual processes, which are directly involved in processing the specific type of input.