Impact of feedback on three phases of performance monitoring

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We investigated if certain phases of performance monitoring show differential sensitivity to external feedback and thus rely on distinct mechanisms. The phases of interest were: the error phase (FE), the phase of the correct response after errors (FEC), and the phase of correct responses following corrects (FCC). We tested accuracy and reaction time (RT) on 12 conditions of a continuous-choice-response task; the 2-back task. External feedback was either presented or not in FE and FEC, and delivered on 0%, 20%, or 100% of FCC trials. The FCC20 was matched to FE and FEC in the number of sounds received so that we could investigate when external feedback was most valuable to the participants. We found that external feedback led to a reduction in accuracy when presented on all the correct responses. Moreover, RT was significantly reduced for FCC100, which in turn correlated with the accuracy reduction. Interestingly, the correct response after an error was particularly sensitive to external feedback since accuracy was reduced when external feedback was presented during this phase but not for FCC20. Notably, error-monitoring was not influenced by feedback-type. The results are in line with models suggesting that the internal error-monitoring system is sufficient in cognitively demanding tasks where performance is ∼ 80%, as well as theories stipulating that external feedback directs attention away from the task. Our data highlight the first correct response after an error as particularly sensitive to external feedback, suggesting that important consolidation of response strategy takes place here.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)224-233
Number of pages10
JournalExperimental Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • error-monitoring
  • external feedback
  • internal feedback
  • working memory
  • information theory

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