Unravelling the neural mechanisms, which determine performance accuracy, is one of the key concepts in cognitive neuroscience. When compared to correct responses, shorter reaction times are commonly observed behavioural feature of errors committed in typical conflict tasks. Yet, little is known about the origins of this phenomenon. In this study, EEG and fMRI experiments were conducted using the numerical version of the Stroop paradigm, which yielded unique behavioural outcomes. Particularly, errors in numerical comparison had shorter reaction times than correct trials, whereas physical comparison resulted in the opposite pattern. This criss–crossing interaction effect was used as a marker when exploring time-courses of brain activity. Group independent component analysis was applied to neurophysiological data and event-related analysis was conducted on the components’ time-courses. Results revealed one centro-parietal EEG component and one temporo-parietal fMRI neural network, which exhibited significant task and accuracy interactions. Showing linear increase that peaked right after the response onset, the activity of centro-parietal EEG component was linked to the decision variable signal, which reflects a process of accumulating evidence until reaching an action-triggering threshold. Both amplitude measurements and linear fits to the signal provided evidence for distinctive characteristics between numerical and physical comparisons, thereby explaining the behavioural outcomes: errors are committed due to accumulation of evidence in favour of the other (wrong) task instruction. The architecture of the temporo-parietal network, which comprises bilateral inferior temporal and intraparietal regions, is highly consistent with the recently established core “number network”. These findings link perceptual decisions with the generalized magnitude system and impart novel insights into the neural determinants of errors in humans.
Brain Structure and Function – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 22, 2017
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