Previous research has found that individuals with obsessive-compulsive (OC)
traits show larger error-related negativity (ERN) and correct-response negativity (CRN)
amplitudes than controls during error of commission tasks, such as the flanker task.
However, a recent study found that individuals with OC tendencies showed smaller ERN
amplitudes during a probabilistic learning task. A probabilistic learning task uses a
reinforcement learning paradigm in which correct responses are reinforced a certain
percentage of the time; therefore, the correct choice is less obvious in a probabilistic
learning task than in a flanker task. This study hypothesized that uncertainty regarding
the correct response may moderate ERN and CRN amplitudes in both the probabilistic
learning task and the flanker task. In addition, individuals with OC traits were predicted
to show smaller ERN and CRN amplitudes when the task was difficult. These
hypotheses were tested by manipulating the uncertainty of both the probabilistic learning
task and the flanker task. The results of this study show that the level of uncertainty
during the probabilistic learning task had little effect on ERN or CRN amplitudes, suggesting that the smaller amplitudes found during probabilistic learning are not due to
the difficult nature of the task. Additionally, individuals with high OC traits show
attenuated ERN and CRN amplitudes during the difficult flanker task. The results of this
study suggest that task uncertainty may moderate response monitoring processes during
motor errors of commission but not during reinforcement learning paradigms.
University of Minnesota M.A. thesis. March 2011. Major: Psychology. Advisors: Shmuel Lissek, William G. Iacono. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 46 pages.
The effect of manipulating task difficulty on error-related negativity: divergence between reinforcement learning and error of commission tasks..
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