Does the processing of sensory and reward-prediction errors involve common neural resources? Evidence from a frontocentral negative potential modulated by movement execution errors.
Torrecillos F., Albouy P., Brochier T., Malfait N.
In humans, electrophysiological correlates of error processing have been extensively investigated in relation to decision-making theories. In particular, error-related ERPs have been most often studied using response selection tasks. In these tasks, involving very simple motor responses (e.g., button press), errors concern inappropriate action-selection only. However, EEG activity in relation to inaccurate movement-execution in more complex motor tasks has been much less examined. In the present study, we recorded EEG while volunteers performed reaching movements in a force-field created by a robotic device. Hand-path deviations were induced by interspersing catch trials in which the force condition was unpredictably altered. Our goal was twofold. First, we wanted to determine whether a frontocentral ERP was elicited by sensory-prediction errors, whose amplitude reflected the size of kinematic errors. Then, we explored whether common neural processes could be involved in the generation of this ERP and the feedback-related negativity (FRN), often assumed to reflect reward-prediction errors. We identified a frontocentral negativity whose amplitude was modulated by the size of the hand-path deviations induced by the unpredictable mechanical perturbations. This kinematic error-related ERP presented great similarities in terms of time course, topography, and potential source-location with the FRN recorded in the same experiment. These findings suggest that the processing of sensory-prediction errors and the processing of reward-prediction errors could involve a shared neural network.