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What Weve Learned From Mistakes Insights From Error-Related Brain Activity

, : What Weve Learned From Mistakes Insights From Error-Related Brain Activity. Current Directions in Psychological Science 21(2): 101-106

The error-related negativity (ERN) is a neural measure of error processing that peaks just 5 milliseconds after subjects make mistakes. Although previously conceptualized in purely cognitive terms, data increasingly suggest that the ERN is related to motivation and affect. The ERN has consistently been linked to individual differences in trait anxiety. Indeed, the ERN is itself trait-like, demonstrating high heritability and stability over time. The evidence suggests that an increased ERN is a viable biomarker of risk for anxiety disorders. The ERN is also sensitive to variation in the perceived consequences of making an error (i.e., error value): Punishing errors has a lasting effect on the ERN-an effect that is larger among more anxious individuals. Collectively, these data indicate that individual differences in anxiety and learning history could interact to influence the ERN-and that the ERN could be used to better understand trajectories of risk for anxiety disorders across development.


DOI: 10.1177/0963721412436809

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