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Sex differences in error-related performance monitoring

Larson, Michael J.a,b; South, Miklea,b; Clayson, Peter E.a

doi: 10.1097/WNR.0b013e3283427403

We tested competing hypotheses for sex differences in performance monitoring using the error-related negativity and the posterror positivity components of the event-related potential (ERP). High-density ERPs were acquired while 100 female and 98 male partcipants completed a flanker task. Sexes did not differ in accuracy or posterror slowing, although females showed longer overall response times. Males showed increased amplitude error-related negativity and posterror positivity components relative to females; sexes did not differ on correct-trial ERPs. Sex differences remained in subgroups matched for depression and anxiety levels. Results indicate that participant sex should be considered in understanding the cognitive and emotional correlates of performance monitoring.

Departments of aPsychology

bNeuroscience, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, USA

Correspondence to Michael J. Larson, PhD, Department of Psychology, Brigham Young University, 244 TLRB, Provo, UT 84602, USA Tel: +1 801 422 6125; fax: +1 801 422 0163; e-mail:

Received October 18, 2010

Accepted November 9, 2010

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.