Dissociation between conflict detection and error monitoring in the human anterior cingulate cortex

Diane Swick, U. Turken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

254 Scopus citations


The relative importance of the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) for the detection and resolution of response conflicts versus its role in error monitoring remains under debate. One disputed issue is whether conflict detection and error monitoring can be viewed as unitary functions performed by the same region of the ACC, or whether these processes can be dissociated functionally and anatomically. We used a combination of electrophysiological and neuropsychological methods to assess these competing hypotheses. A neurological patient with a rare focal lesion of rostral-to-middorsal ACC was tested in an event-related potential study designed to track the time course of neural activity during conflicts and erroneous responses. Compared with controls, the errorrelated negativity component after incorrect responses was attenuated in the patient, accompanied by lower error-correction rates. Conversely, the stimulus-locked component on correct conflict trials, the N450, was enhanced, and behavioral performance was impaired. We hypothesize that intact regions of lateral prefrontal cortex were able to detect response conflict, but damage to the dorsal ACC impaired response inhibition, which may be due to disconnection from cingulate and supplementary motor areas. The results implicate rostral-dorsal ACC in error monitoring and suggest this function can be dissociated from conflict-detection processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16354-16359
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number25
StatePublished - Dec 10 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • General


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