Stimulating the Performance Monitoring Network: Effects of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation on Error-Processing



Paquette, Natalie A

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The human performance monitoring network (PMN) is a collection of neural components that modify behavior to generate successful task performance. However, activation of the involved cortical areas can hinder successful task performance when limited time is available to modify behavior. Presently, little is known about how the PMN functions under different time constraints. To investigate the link between the neural correlates of the PMN and commonly observed post-error behaviors, this study manipulated PMN activation via transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) at the Medial Frontal Cortex (MFC). This study implemented a difficult visual discrimination task in which response- stimulus intervals (RSIs) were varied, coupled with tDCS, to investigate the effects on performance monitoring of different RSI lengths. A within subjects design was used, in which participants took part in both the experimental (anodal) and the control (sham) stimulation conditions. Critically, anodal stimulation significantly improved overall accuracy. Analyses of post-error behaviors also showed that anodal stimulation produced a significant increase in post-error accuracy (PEA) and post-error slowing (PES). These findings are consistent with the notion that post-error behavioral adjustments facilitate better overall task performance when sufficient processing time is available. The findings also provide causal evidence for the role of the MFC in PMN activity and resulting post-error behavioral adjustments.



Performance monitoring, TDCS, Error-processing, Response-Stimulus Interval