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Journal Articles Psychophysiology Year : 2023

Temporal unpredictability increases error monitoring as revealed by EEG–EMG investigation


Abstract Reacting in an unpredictable context increases error monitoring as evidenced by greater error‐related negativity (ERN), an electrophysiological marker linked to an evaluation of response outcomes. We investigated whether ERN also increased when participants evaluated their responses to events that appeared in unpredictable versus predictable moments in time. We complemented electroencephalographic (EEG) analysis of cortical activity by measuring performance monitoring processes at the peripheral level using electromyography (EMG). Specifically, we used EMG data to quantify how temporal unpredictability would affect motor time (MT), the interval between the onset of muscle activity, and the mechanical response. MT increases following errors, indexing online error detection, and an attempt to stop incorrect actions. In our temporally cued version of the stop‐signal task, symbolic cues predicted (temporally predictable condition) or not (temporally unpredictable condition) the onset of a target. In 25% of trials, an auditory signal occurred shortly after the target presentation, informing participants that they should inhibit their response completely. Response times were slower, and fewer inhibitory errors were made during temporally unpredictable than predictable trials, indicating enhanced control of unwanted actions when target onset time was unknown. Importantly, the ERN to inhibitory errors was greater in temporally unpredictable relative to temporally predictable conditions. Similarly, EMG data revealed prolonged MT when reactions to temporally unpredictable targets had not been stopped. Taken together, our results show that a temporally unpredictable environment increases the control of unwanted actions, both at cortical and peripheral levels, suggesting a higher subjective cost of maladaptive responses to temporally uncertain events.
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hal-04216266 , version 1 (24-09-2023)





I. Korolczuk, Boris Burle, J T Coull, H. Ogińska, M. Ociepka, et al.. Temporal unpredictability increases error monitoring as revealed by EEG–EMG investigation. Psychophysiology, 2023, ⟨10.1111/psyp.14442⟩. ⟨hal-04216266⟩
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