Gender influences on brain responses to errors and post-error adjustments
Fischer, Adrian G. and Danielmeier, Claudia and Villringer, Arno and Klein, Tilmann A. and Ullsperger, Markus (2016) Gender influences on brain responses to errors and post-error adjustments. Scientific Reports . ISSN 2045-2322
Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep24435
Sexual dimorphisms have been observed in many species, including humans, and extend to the prevalence and presentation of important mental disorders associated with performance monitoring malfunctions. However, precisely which underlying differences between genders contribute to the alterations observed in psychiatric diseases is unknown. Here, we compare behavioural and neural correlates of cognitive control functions in 438 female and 436 male participants performing a flanker task while EEG was recorded. We found that males showed stronger performance-monitoring-related EEG amplitude modulations which were employed to predict subjects’ genders with ~72% accuracy. Females showed more post-error slowing, but both samples did not differ in regard to response-conflict processing and coupling between the error-related negativity (ERN) and consecutive behavioural slowing. Furthermore, we found that the ERN predicted consecutive behavioural slowing within subjects, whereas its overall amplitude did not correlate with post-error slowing across participants. These findings elucidate specific gender differences in essential neurocognitive functions with implications for clinical studies. They highlight that within- and between-subject associations for brain potentials cannot be interpreted in the same way. Specifically, despite higher general amplitudes in males, it appears that the dynamics of coupling between ERN and post-error slowing between men and women is comparable.
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