Executive function and error detection: The effect of motivation on cingulate and ventral striatum activity

Cristina Simões-Franklin, Robert Hester, Marina Shpaner, John J. Foxe, Hugh Garavan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Reacting appropriately to errors during task performance is fundamental to successful negotiation of our environment. This is especially true when errors will result in a significant penalty for the person performing a given task, be they financial or otherwise. Error responses and monitoring states were manipulated in a GO/NOGO task by introducing a financial punishment for errors. This study employed a mixed block design alternating between punishment and no punishment (neutral) conditions, enabling an assessment of tonic changes associated with cognitive control as well as trialspecific effects. Behavioural results revealed slower responses and fewer commission errors in the punishment condition. The dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) had equal trial-specific activity for errors in the neutral and punishment conditions but had greater tonic activity throughout the punishment condition. A region of interest analysis revealed different activation patterns between the dorsal and the rostral parts of the ACC with the rostral ACC having only trial-specific activity for errors in the punishment condition, an activity profile similar to one observed in the nucleus accumbens. This study suggests that there is a motivational influence on cognitive processes in the ACC and nucleus accumbens and hints at a dissociation between tonic proactive activity and phasic reactive error-related activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)458-469
Number of pages12
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Anterior cingulate
  • Error detection
  • Inhibitory control
  • Monetary loss
  • Motivation
  • Nucleus accumbens
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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