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Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience

December 2008, Vol. 20, No. 12, Pages 2211-2225
(doi: 10.1162/jocn.2008.20155)
© 2008 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Dissociating Early and Late Error Signals in Perceptual Recognition
Article PDF (401.51 KB)

Decisions about object identity follow a period in which evidence is gathered and analyzed. Evidence can consist of both task-relevant external stimuli and internally generated goals and expectations. How the various pieces of information are gathered and filtered into meaningful evidence by the nervous system is largely unknown. Although object recognition is often highly efficient and accurate, errors are common. Errors may be related to faulty evidence gathering arising from early misinterpretations of incoming stimulus information. In addition, errors in task performance are known to elicit late corrective performance monitoring mechanisms that can optimize or otherwise adjust future behavior. In this study, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in an extended trial paradigm of object recognition to study whether we could identify performance-based signal modulations prior to and following the moment of recognition. The rationale driving the current report is that early modulations in fMRI activity may reflect faulty evidence gathering, whereas late modulations may reflect the presence of performance monitoring mechanisms. We tested this possibility by comparing fMRI activity on correct and error trials in regions of interest (ROIs) that were selected a priori. We found pre- and postrecognition accuracy-dependent modulation in different sets of a priori ROIs, suggesting the presence of dissociable error signals.