Disentangling the impacts of outcome valence and outcome frequency on the post-error slowing

Lijun Wang, Dandan Tang, Yuanfang Zhao, Glenn Hitchman, Shanshan Wu, Jinfeng Tan, Antao Chen

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


Post-error slowing (PES) reflects efficient outcome monitoring, manifested as slower reaction time after errors. Cognitive control account assumes that PES depends on error information, whereas orienting account posits that it depends on error frequency. This raises the question how the outcome valence and outcome frequency separably influence the generation of PES. To address this issue, we varied the probability of observation errors (50/50 and 20/80, correct/error) the “partner” committed by employing an observation-execution task and investigated the corresponding behavioral and neural effects. On each trial, participants first viewed the outcome of a flanker-run that was supposedly performed by a ‘partner’, and then performed a flanker-run themselves afterwards. We observed PES in the two error rate conditions. However, electroencephalographic data suggested error-related potentials (oERN and oPe) and rhythmic oscillation associated with attentional process (alpha band) were respectively sensitive to outcome valence and outcome frequency. Importantly, oERN amplitude was positively correlated with PES. Taken together, these findings support the assumption of the cognitive control account, suggesting that outcome valence and outcome frequency are both involved in PES. Moreover, the generation of PES is indexed by oERN, whereas the modulation of PES size could be reflected on the alpha band.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 2015


  • Outcome valence
  • Outcome frequrency
  • Post-error slowing (PES)


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