My name is Paul Beatty and I am a 6th year doctoral candidate in the psychology program with a concentration in cognitive and behavioral neuroscience. Thanks to the 2020 CHSS Summer Research Fellowship, despite the ongoing pandemic, I was able to continue to work on my dissertation. My work utilizes a psychophysiological research technique known as electroencephalography (EEG), which is a method to non-invasively record the electrical activity of the brain while people perform decision-making tasks on a computer. Specifically, my research investigates a network of brain regions that determine when a person commits an error and subsequently controls how to modify one’s behavior in an attempt to prevent the error from reoccurring.
While previous work has investigated how the magnitude of error processing influences behavior from one response to the next, those studies omit consideration of the tendency to salvage the ongoing trial. If a person has the means to quickly correct for their mistakes, why wouldn’t they do so? Using various analysis procedures to decompose the electrical signals of the brain into their underlying neural frequencies, I created a new electrophysiological index for response correction tendencies. In other words, even when a secondary, corrective response is not explicitly made following an erroneous response, it is still possible to quantify the amount of motor activation from the brain for each response option. The data demonstrate that as the magnitude of the corrective tendency increases, a person will respond faster and more accurately on the following trial, which suggests that response correction tendencies are an adaptive neural mechanism involved in performance maintenance.
Implications for this research are that it could refine methodologies for analyzing and interpreting electrophysiological data as well as guide interventions to improve cognitive performance, such as noninvasive stimulation of the brain areas involved in action monitoring. More generally, this research adds to the existing literature that investigates the neural mechanisms underlying how individuals are able to compensate from their mistakes. As I continue with my dissertation research, I intend to explore the relationship between correction tendencies and their role in guiding early sensory processes related to visual attention.
May 04, 2021