Developmental changes in external and internal performance monitoring across middle childhood: An ERP study

Ty Lees, Cassidy M. Fry, Sarah Terrell, Michelle K. Jetha, Sidney J. Segalowitz, Lisa M. Gatzke-Kopp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Performance monitoring is critical for learning and behavioral adaption and is supported by both externally and internally sourced information. Cross-sectional studies indicate an increase in internal error processing across childhood, suggesting a potential developmental transition from reliance on external information to reliance on internally developed models. However, little research has examined the association between these constructs longitudinally. Data from 339 children assessed annually from kindergarten to 2nd grade were examined to determine the developmental trajectory of ERP indices of performance monitoring, and whether the association between these indices changes across time. EEG data were recorded during an incentivized Go/No-Go task and ERP component amplitudes were extracted as peak measures at Fz. Despite small increases in magnitude, no significant changes were observed in any of the ERPs. Multi-level regression analyses indicated that in kindergarten a more negative feedback-related negativity (FRN) was associated with a more negative error-related negativity (ERN) and a more negative error positivity (Pe). Further, the association between the FRN and Pe changed over time, such that in 2nd grade the FRN and Pe decoupled from one another and were no longer associated. These results suggest that the development of performance monitoring through middle childhood may be a phasic process. More specifically, matured external feedback monitoring processes may first facilitate the development of conscious error recognition, and then the development of internal error monitoring processes. Once internal models of error monitoring are well-established, children may then reduce their utilization of external feedback.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20-33
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Psychophysiology
StatePublished - Nov 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Physiology (medical)


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