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A fundamental question in frontal lobe function is how motivational and emotional parameters of behavior apply to executive processes. Recent advances in mood and personality research and the technology and methodology of brain research provide opportunities to address this question empirically. Using event-related-potentials to track error monitoring in real time, the authors demonstrated that variability in the amplitude of the error-related negativity (ERN) is dependent on mood and personality variables. College students who are high on negative affect (NA) and negative emotionality (NEM) displayed larger ERN amplitudes early in the experiment than participants who are low on these dimensions. As the high-NA and -NEM participants disengaged from the task, the amplitude of the ERN decreased. These results reveal that affective distress and associated behavioral patterns are closely related with frontal lobe executive functions.