The feedback-related negativity (FRN) is an event-related brain potential component that is elicited by feedback stimuli indicating unfavorable outcomes. Until recently, the FRN has been studied primarily using experimental paradigms in which outcomes appeared to be contingent upon the participants' behavior. The present study further addressed the question whether an FRN can be elicited by outcomes that are not contingent on any preceding choice or action. Participants took part in a simple slot-machine task in which they experienced monetary gains and losses in the absence of responses. In addition, they performed a time estimation task often used to study the FRN and a flanker task known to elicit the error-related negativity. Outcomes in the slot-machine task elicited an FRN-like mediofrontal negativity whose amplitude correlated with the amplitude of the FRN associated with negative feedback in the time estimation task. However, the mediofrontal negativity was observed both for (unfavorable) outcomes that averted a gain and for (favorable) outcomes that averted a loss of money. The results are discussed in the framework of current conceptions of the FRN and related electrophysiological components.
- feedback-related negativity
- error-related negativity