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ERIC Number: EJ991434
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-May
Pages: 7
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0278-7393
Individual Differences in Working Memory Capacity Predict Action Monitoring and the Error-Related Negativity
Miller, A. Eve; Watson, Jason M.; Strayer, David L.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, v38 n3 p757-763 May 2012
Neuroscience suggests that the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) is responsible for conflict monitoring and the detection of errors in cognitive tasks, thereby contributing to the implementation of attentional control. Though individual differences in frontally mediated goal maintenance have clearly been shown to influence outward behavior in interference-rich contexts, it is unclear whether corresponding differences exist in neural responses that arise out of the ACC. To investigate this possibility, we conducted an electrophysiological study using a variant of the Simon Task, recording event-related potentials (ERPs) in healthy normal individuals with varying working memory capacity (high vs. low spans; a behavioral proxy for variability in goal maintenance). Primary analyses focused on the magnitude of the error-related negativity (ERN), a response-locked ERP component associated with the commission of errors thought to arise because of action monitoring in the ACC. Our results revealed that frontally mediated working memory capacity may alter error monitoring by the ACC, with high spans showing a greater ERN than low spans. These individual differences were also observed in the posterror positivity, a response-locked ERP component associated with updating cognitive strategies, suggesting greater awareness of errors with increased working memory capacity. These results are interpreted within 2-process models of attentional control, suggesting individuals with greater working memory capacity may better maintain task goals by more strongly biasing neural activity in frontal-executive networks. (Contains 2 tables, 1 figure and 4 footnotes.)
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Utah