Trial-by-trial coupling of concurrent electroencephalogram and functional magnetic resonance imaging identifies the dynamics of performance monitoring.
Goal-directed behavior requires the continuous monitoring and dynamic adjustment of ongoing actions. Here, we report a direct coupling between the event-related electroencephalogram (EEG), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), and behavioral measures of performance monitoring in humans. By applying independent component analysis to EEG signals recorded simultaneously with fMRI, we found the single-trial error-related negativity of the EEG to be systematically related to behavior in the subsequent trial, thereby reflecting immediate behavioral adjustments of a cognitive performance monitoring system. Moreover, this trial-by-trial EEG measure of performance monitoring predicted the fMRI activity in the rostral cingulate zone, a brain region thought to play a key role in processing of response errors. We conclude that investigations of the dynamic coupling between EEG and fMRI provide a powerful approach for the study of higher order brain functions.