Induced error-related theta activity, not error-related negativity, predicts task performance as well as anxiety and worry during real-life stress in a youth sample

Gil Shner-Livne, George A. Buzzell, Nathan A. Fox, Tomer Shechner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: The study examined differences between induced error-related theta activity (4–7 Hz) and error-related negativity (ERN) in youth and their unique associations with task performance as well as anxiety and worry during real-life stress a year later. We hypothesized that induced theta, but not the ERN, would predict task performance. We also hypothesized that induced theta would predict less anxiety and worries during situational stress a year later, while ERN would predict more anxiety and worries. Method: Participants included 76 children aged 8–13 years who completed a flanker task while electroencephalogram (EEG) and behavioral data (t0) were collected. Approximately 1 year later (t1), during the first COVID-19 lockdown, 40 families from the original sample completed a battery of online questionnaires to assess the children's stress-related symptoms (anxiety, negative emotions and worries). We employed an analytical method that allowed us to differentiate between induced error-related theta and the evoked ERN. Results: Induced error-related theta, but not ERN, was associated with behavioral changes during the task, such as post-error speeding. Furthermore, induced error-related theta, but not ERN, was prospectively associated with less anxiety, worries, and fewer negative emotions a year later during COVID-19 lockdown. Conclusions: Findings suggest ERN and error-related theta are dissociable processes reflecting error monitoring in youth. Specifically, induced error-related theta is more robustly associated with changes in behavior in the laboratory and with less anxiety and worries in real-world settings.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere14492
JournalPsychophysiology
Volume61
Issue number4
Early online date10 Dec 2023
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Psychophysiology published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Society for Psychophysiological Research.

Keywords

  • EEG error-monitoring
  • anxiety
  • error-related negativity
  • theta
  • youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Physiology

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