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Is there any electrophysiological evidence for subliminal error processing?

Shalgi S, Deouell LY - Front Neurosci (2013)

Bottom Line: We found that error detection as reflected by the Ne is correlated with subjective awareness: when awareness (or more importantly lack thereof) is more strictly determined using the wagering paradigm, no Ne is elicited without awareness.This result effectively resolves the issue of why there are many conflicting findings regarding the Ne and error awareness.The average Ne amplitude appears to be influenced by individual criteria for error reporting and therefore, studies containing different mixtures of participants who are more confident of their own performance or less confident, or paradigms that either encourage or don't encourage reporting low confidence errors will show different results.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Cognitive Science, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem Jerusalem, Israel.

ABSTRACT
The role of error awareness in executive control and modification of behavior is not fully understood. In line with many recent studies showing that conscious awareness is unnecessary for numerous high-level processes such as strategic adjustments and decision making, it was suggested that error detection can also take place unconsciously. The Error Negativity (Ne) component, long established as a robust error-related component that differentiates between correct responses and errors, was a fine candidate to test this notion: if an Ne is elicited also by errors which are not consciously detected, it would imply a subliminal process involved in error monitoring that does not necessarily lead to conscious awareness of the error. Indeed, for the past decade, the repeated finding of a similar Ne for errors which became aware and errors that did not achieve awareness, compared to the smaller negativity elicited by correct responses (Correct Response Negativity; CRN), has lent the Ne the prestigious status of an index of subliminal error processing. However, there were several notable exceptions to these findings. The study in the focus of this review (Shalgi and Deouell, 2012) sheds new light on both types of previous results. We found that error detection as reflected by the Ne is correlated with subjective awareness: when awareness (or more importantly lack thereof) is more strictly determined using the wagering paradigm, no Ne is elicited without awareness. This result effectively resolves the issue of why there are many conflicting findings regarding the Ne and error awareness. The average Ne amplitude appears to be influenced by individual criteria for error reporting and therefore, studies containing different mixtures of participants who are more confident of their own performance or less confident, or paradigms that either encourage or don't encourage reporting low confidence errors will show different results. Based on this evidence, it is no longer possible to unquestioningly uphold the notion that the amplitude of the Ne is unrelated to subjective awareness, and therefore, that errors are detected without conscious awareness.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Schematized results, based on Shalgi et al. (2009); Shalgi and Deouell (2012). In typical Ne studies, nominally Unaware Errors may elicit an Ne-like response (broken blue line), which is similar or a little smaller than the Ne elicited by Aware Errors (red line). However, when only errors which were confidently missed (a high bet on correct) are considered, the response to Unaware Errors is similar to the CRN elicited by correct responses (black line).
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Figure 1: Schematized results, based on Shalgi et al. (2009); Shalgi and Deouell (2012). In typical Ne studies, nominally Unaware Errors may elicit an Ne-like response (broken blue line), which is similar or a little smaller than the Ne elicited by Aware Errors (red line). However, when only errors which were confidently missed (a high bet on correct) are considered, the response to Unaware Errors is similar to the CRN elicited by correct responses (black line).

Mentions: The study in the focus of the current review (Shalgi and Deouell, 2012) proposed and empirically tested a solution to the above debate, which explains both types of results (difference/no difference between the Ne of Aware and Unaware Errors). In a choice-reaction time task, we asked our participants, on every trial, to judge whether they were accurate in their response or not (accuracy judgment). Immediately following this decision, we asked participants to bet money on their just-made accuracy judgment (wagering technique; Ullsperger et al., 2010). By examining the amount of their bet we effectively gained a measure of their subjective confidence in whether they were right or wrong in their accuracy judgment. We found that when participants made an error, yet were certain that they had not erred (indicated by their willingness to bet high that they had made a correct response), the Ne was significantly smaller than when subjects made an error, reported it, and were certain of it (betting high that they had indeed made an error). Moreover, when subjects erred and were certain that they did not, the Ne was comparable to the CRN elicited by correct responses of which they were confident. Conversely, when subjects were correct but were uncertain of their performance (betting low on whether they were correct) or when they reported they erred but were uncertain of it, an intermediate CRN/Ne was elicited by all types of responses (Correct, Aware Errors, and Unaware Errors). These findings (schematized in Figure 1) suggest that the error detection as reflected by the Ne is after all dependent on subjective awareness of the error—when the level of awareness is more strictly determined using the wagering paradigm3, no Ne is elicited without awareness. Thus, the Ne cannot be taken as evidence for error detection which is independent of error awareness.


Is there any electrophysiological evidence for subliminal error processing?

Shalgi S, Deouell LY - Front Neurosci (2013)

Schematized results, based on Shalgi et al. (2009); Shalgi and Deouell (2012). In typical Ne studies, nominally Unaware Errors may elicit an Ne-like response (broken blue line), which is similar or a little smaller than the Ne elicited by Aware Errors (red line). However, when only errors which were confidently missed (a high bet on correct) are considered, the response to Unaware Errors is similar to the CRN elicited by correct responses (black line).
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3756425&req=5

Figure 1: Schematized results, based on Shalgi et al. (2009); Shalgi and Deouell (2012). In typical Ne studies, nominally Unaware Errors may elicit an Ne-like response (broken blue line), which is similar or a little smaller than the Ne elicited by Aware Errors (red line). However, when only errors which were confidently missed (a high bet on correct) are considered, the response to Unaware Errors is similar to the CRN elicited by correct responses (black line).
Mentions: The study in the focus of the current review (Shalgi and Deouell, 2012) proposed and empirically tested a solution to the above debate, which explains both types of results (difference/no difference between the Ne of Aware and Unaware Errors). In a choice-reaction time task, we asked our participants, on every trial, to judge whether they were accurate in their response or not (accuracy judgment). Immediately following this decision, we asked participants to bet money on their just-made accuracy judgment (wagering technique; Ullsperger et al., 2010). By examining the amount of their bet we effectively gained a measure of their subjective confidence in whether they were right or wrong in their accuracy judgment. We found that when participants made an error, yet were certain that they had not erred (indicated by their willingness to bet high that they had made a correct response), the Ne was significantly smaller than when subjects made an error, reported it, and were certain of it (betting high that they had indeed made an error). Moreover, when subjects erred and were certain that they did not, the Ne was comparable to the CRN elicited by correct responses of which they were confident. Conversely, when subjects were correct but were uncertain of their performance (betting low on whether they were correct) or when they reported they erred but were uncertain of it, an intermediate CRN/Ne was elicited by all types of responses (Correct, Aware Errors, and Unaware Errors). These findings (schematized in Figure 1) suggest that the error detection as reflected by the Ne is after all dependent on subjective awareness of the error—when the level of awareness is more strictly determined using the wagering paradigm3, no Ne is elicited without awareness. Thus, the Ne cannot be taken as evidence for error detection which is independent of error awareness.

Bottom Line: We found that error detection as reflected by the Ne is correlated with subjective awareness: when awareness (or more importantly lack thereof) is more strictly determined using the wagering paradigm, no Ne is elicited without awareness.This result effectively resolves the issue of why there are many conflicting findings regarding the Ne and error awareness.The average Ne amplitude appears to be influenced by individual criteria for error reporting and therefore, studies containing different mixtures of participants who are more confident of their own performance or less confident, or paradigms that either encourage or don't encourage reporting low confidence errors will show different results.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Cognitive Science, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem Jerusalem, Israel.

ABSTRACT
The role of error awareness in executive control and modification of behavior is not fully understood. In line with many recent studies showing that conscious awareness is unnecessary for numerous high-level processes such as strategic adjustments and decision making, it was suggested that error detection can also take place unconsciously. The Error Negativity (Ne) component, long established as a robust error-related component that differentiates between correct responses and errors, was a fine candidate to test this notion: if an Ne is elicited also by errors which are not consciously detected, it would imply a subliminal process involved in error monitoring that does not necessarily lead to conscious awareness of the error. Indeed, for the past decade, the repeated finding of a similar Ne for errors which became aware and errors that did not achieve awareness, compared to the smaller negativity elicited by correct responses (Correct Response Negativity; CRN), has lent the Ne the prestigious status of an index of subliminal error processing. However, there were several notable exceptions to these findings. The study in the focus of this review (Shalgi and Deouell, 2012) sheds new light on both types of previous results. We found that error detection as reflected by the Ne is correlated with subjective awareness: when awareness (or more importantly lack thereof) is more strictly determined using the wagering paradigm, no Ne is elicited without awareness. This result effectively resolves the issue of why there are many conflicting findings regarding the Ne and error awareness. The average Ne amplitude appears to be influenced by individual criteria for error reporting and therefore, studies containing different mixtures of participants who are more confident of their own performance or less confident, or paradigms that either encourage or don't encourage reporting low confidence errors will show different results. Based on this evidence, it is no longer possible to unquestioningly uphold the notion that the amplitude of the Ne is unrelated to subjective awareness, and therefore, that errors are detected without conscious awareness.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus