Foreshadowing of performance accuracy by event-related potentials: Evidence from a minimal-conflict task

Hiroaki Masaki*, Timothy I. Murphy, Keita Kamijo, Katuo Yamazaki, Werner Sommer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Recent studies employing stimulus-response compatibility tasks suggest that an increase in the amplitude of the positive deflection of the response-locked event-related potential (ERP) foreshadows errors on forthcoming trials. However, no studies have tested the generalizability of error-foreshadowing positivity to tasks without stimulus-response interference. Methodology/Principal Findings: The present study adopted an alternating-response task, in which the participants responded to the pointing direction of an arrowhead (up or down). Although the arrowhead direction alternated for the majority of trials (95%), occasionally this pattern was broken by a repeated stimulus, termed a lure trial. We compared the matched-reaction-time correct-preceding ERP with the error-preceding ERP on lure-preceding trials. There was no evidence that errors are foreshadowed by the increase of a positive electroencephalogram (EEG) deflection. To the contrary, analyses of ERPs time-locked to electromyogram (EMG) onset on the five consecutive lure-preceding trials showed larger positive deflections on correct-preceding than error-preceding trials. The post-response negativity did not differ between correct-preceding and error-preceding trials. Conclusions/Significance: These results suggest that in minimal conflict tasks a decreased positivity may foreshadow incorrect performance several trials prior to the error, possibly reflecting the waning of task-related efforts. Therefore, error-foreshadowing brain signals may be task-specific.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere38006
JournalPloS one
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2012 May 31

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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