The Error-Related Negativity Predicts Self-Control Failures in Daily Life

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Adaptive behavior critically depends on performance monitoring (PM), the ability to monitor action outcomes and the need to adapt behavior. PM-related brain activity has been linked to guiding decisions about whether action adaptation is warranted. The present study examined whether PM-related brain activity in a flanker task, as measured by electroencephalography (EEG), was associated with adaptive behavior in daily life. Specifically, we were interested in the employment of self-control, operationalized as self-control failures (SCFs), and measured using ecological momentary assessment. Analyses were conducted using an adaptive elastic net regression to predict SCFs from EEG in a sample of 131 participants. The model was fit using within-subject averaged response-locked EEG activity at each electrode and time point within an epoch surrounding the response. We found that higher amplitudes of the error-related negativity (ERN) were related to fewer SCFs. This suggests that lower error-related activity may relate to lower recruitment of interventive self-control in daily life. Altered cognitive control processes, like PM, have been proposed as underlying mechanisms for various mental disorders. Understanding how alterations in PM relate to regulatory control might therefore aid in delineating how these alterations contribute to different psychopathologies.


Original languageEnglish
JournalFrontiers in human neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jan 2021

External IDs

Scopus 85101025382
ORCID /0000-0002-8845-8803/work/141545262
ORCID /0000-0002-7336-7984/work/142238705



  • performance monitoring, ERN, error processing, EEG, self-control, ecological momentary assessment, daily life