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Losing the error related negativity (ERN): an indicator for willed action

By Brigitte Stemmer, Wolfgang Witzke and Paul Walter Schoenle


When people make errors in a discrimination task, a negative-going waveform can be observed in scalp-recorded EEG that has been coined the error-related negativity (ERN). We hypothesized that the ERN only occurs with slips, that is unwilled action errors, but not if an error is committed willingly and intentionally. We investigated the occurrence of the ERN in a choice reaction time task that has been shown to produce an ERN and in an error simulation task where subjects had to fake errors while the EEG was recorded. We observed a loss of the ERN when errors were committed in willed actions but not in unwilled actions thus supporting the idea that the production of the ERN is tied to slips in unwilled actions but not mistakes in willed actions

Topics: Cognitive Psychology, Neurophysiology, Neuropsychology
Year: 2001
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