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Human Medial Frontal Cortex Activity Predicts Learning from Errors

Hester, R., Barre, N., Murphy, Kevin, Silk, T. J. and Mattingley, J. B. 2008. Human Medial Frontal Cortex Activity Predicts Learning from Errors. Cerebral Cortex 18 (8) , pp. 1933-1940. 10.1093/cercor/bhm219

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Learning from errors is a critical feature of human cognition. It underlies our ability to adapt to changing environmental demands and to tune behavior for optimal performance. The posterior medial frontal cortex (pMFC) has been implicated in the evaluation of errors to control behavior, although it has not previously been shown that activity in this region predicts learning from errors. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we examined activity in the pMFC during an associative learning task in which participants had to recall the spatial locations of 2-digit targets and were provided with immediate feedback regarding accuracy. Activity within the pMFC was significantly greater for errors that were subsequently corrected than for errors that were repeated. Moreover, pMFC activity during recall errors predicted future responses (correct vs. incorrect), despite a sizeable interval (on average 70 s) between an error and the next presentation of the same recall probe. Activity within the hippocampus also predicted future performance and correlated with error-feedback–related pMFC activity. A relationship between performance expectations and pMFC activity, in the absence of differing reinforcement value for errors, is consistent with the idea that error-related pMFC activity reflects the extent to which an outcome is “worse than expected.”

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Physics and Astronomy
Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Uncontrolled Keywords: anterior cingulate cortex; associative learning; error processing; functional MRI
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISSN: 1047-3211
Last Modified: 08 May 2019 14:04

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