Three previous studies using the GO/NOGO task were examined to characterize the pattern of functional activation seen during error-related processing. The large sample size (n = 44) also allowed investigation of the influence of individual differences in age, sex, self-reported absentmindedness and reaction speed on the level of activation. Errors were seen to activate a network of regions including the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), pre-supplementary motor area (pre-SMA), bilateral insula, thalamus and right inferior parietal lobule. Split-half comparisons performed for each of the individual difference variables indicated greater ACC and pre-SMA activation for older subjects while slower responders showed greater activation in the parietal, lateral PFC, insula and ACC regions. Whereas males and females demonstrated equivalent levels of activation in both the ACC and insula, self-reported absentmindedness related to reduced activation in these regions. Our review of the current imaging literature on error-related activation indicates that, despite the use of a variety of other cognitive paradigms, the network of regions identified here is consistent with these previous studies, suggesting that these regions are critical to a 'general' error-related response. Furthermore, this response is, in part, influenced by individual differences in both demographic characteristics and behavioural performance.
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