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Theta phase-resetting and the error-related negativity

Nick Yeung, Rafal Bogacz, Clay B. Holroyd, Sander Nieuwenhuis, Jonathan D. Cohen, Theta phase-resetting and the error-related negativity. Psychophysiology, 44, pp. 39–49. January 2007. PDF, 422 Kbytes.


It has been proposed that the error-related negativity (ERN) is generated by phase-resetting of ongoing theta-band EEG oscillations. We have previously used simulations of EEG data to demonstrate limitations of evidence used to support this hypothesis. The present research extends this approach to evaluate a new set of analysis methods that have been used to support the theta phase-resetting account of the ERN. We apply each proposed analysis method to two simulated data sets: one set that includes theta phase resetting and a second that comprises phasic peaks embedded in EEG noise. The results indicate that the analysis methods do not effectively distinguish between the two simulated data sets. In particular, the simulated data constructed from phasic peaks, though containing no synchronization of ongoing EEG activity, demonstrate properties previously interpreted as supporting the synchronized oscillation account of the ERN. These findings suggest that the proposed analysis methods cannot provide unambiguous evidence that the ERN is generated by phase resetting of ongoing oscillations.

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