Involvement of Human Internal Globus Pallidus in the Early Modulation of Cortical Error-Related Activity

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The detection and assessment of errors are a prerequisite to adapt behavior and improve future performance. Error monitoring is afforded by the interplay between cortical and subcortical neural systems. Ample evidence has pointed to a specific cortical error-related evoked potential, the error-related negativity (ERN), during the detection and evaluation of response errors. Recent models of reinforcement learning implicate the basal ganglia (BG) in early error detection following the learning of stimulus-response associations and in the modulation of the cortical ERN. To investigate the influence of the human BG motor output activity on the cortical ERN during response errors, we recorded local field potentials from the sensorimotor area of the internal globus pallidus and scalp electroencephalogram representing activity from the posterior medial frontal cortex in patients with idiopathic dystonia (hands not affected) during a flanker task. In error trials, a specific pallidal error-related potential arose 60 ms prior to the cortical ERN. The error-related changes in pallidal activity—characterized by theta oscillations—were predictive of the cortical error-related activity as assessed by Granger causality analysis. Our findings show an early modulation of error-related activity in the human pallidum, suggesting that pallidal output influences the cortex at an early stage of error detection.

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