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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

The dual-route model of decision making, based on Del Cul et al. (2009) as expanded by Charles et al. (2013).
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Figure 3: The dual-route model of decision making, based on Del Cul et al. (2009) as expanded by Charles et al. (2013).

Mentions: Thus, as opposed to prevailing views, the Ne seems to be correlated with, and possibly a prerequisite to, awareness of an error. Does this mean that without an Ne one cannot be aware of an error? A very recent study by Charles et al. (2013) suggests some types of awareness can occur without eliciting an Ne. Their results showed above-chance error awareness, detected using a forced choice technique, to stimuli that were effectively masked. For these correctly detected (in fact guessed) errors, no Ne was recorded. This finding was interpreted in light of an extension of the dual-route model of decision-making proposed by Del Cul et al. (2009; Figure 3). According to the dual-route model, two parallel routes, with different noise levels and thresholds, accumulate sensory evidence toward a categorical decision on the same input stimulus. One is a fast, non-conscious sensorimotor route (bottom row, Figure 3), and one is a slower conscious decision route (high-level route, top row). A motor response is emitted by the route that first reaches its decision threshold. Usually, we try to guide our actions by our conscious intention, but sometimes our actions start earlier through the fast route, and then we might slip and make an error. According to Charles et al. (2013), the Ne is generated as a result of a discrepancy between the responses computed by the two routes (the difference between intended and executed action).


Is there any electrophysiological evidence for subliminal error processing?

Shalgi S, Deouell LY - Front Neurosci (2013)

The dual-route model of decision making, based on Del Cul et al. (2009) as expanded by Charles et al. (2013).
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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

Figure 3: The dual-route model of decision making, based on Del Cul et al. (2009) as expanded by Charles et al. (2013).
Mentions: Thus, as opposed to prevailing views, the Ne seems to be correlated with, and possibly a prerequisite to, awareness of an error. Does this mean that without an Ne one cannot be aware of an error? A very recent study by Charles et al. (2013) suggests some types of awareness can occur without eliciting an Ne. Their results showed above-chance error awareness, detected using a forced choice technique, to stimuli that were effectively masked. For these correctly detected (in fact guessed) errors, no Ne was recorded. This finding was interpreted in light of an extension of the dual-route model of decision-making proposed by Del Cul et al. (2009; Figure 3). According to the dual-route model, two parallel routes, with different noise levels and thresholds, accumulate sensory evidence toward a categorical decision on the same input stimulus. One is a fast, non-conscious sensorimotor route (bottom row, Figure 3), and one is a slower conscious decision route (high-level route, top row). A motor response is emitted by the route that first reaches its decision threshold. Usually, we try to guide our actions by our conscious intention, but sometimes our actions start earlier through the fast route, and then we might slip and make an error. According to Charles et al. (2013), the Ne is generated as a result of a discrepancy between the responses computed by the two routes (the difference between intended and executed action).

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