How to measure post-error slowing: A confound and a simple solution

G. Dutilh, D. van Ravenzwaaij, S. Nieuwenhuis, H. L. J. van der Maas, B. U. Forstmann, E.--J. Wagenmakers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

119 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In many response time tasks, people slow down after they make an error. This phenomenon of post-error slowing (PES) is thought to reflect an increase in response caution, that is, a heightening of response thresholds in order to increase the probability of a correct response at the expense of response speed. In many empirical studies, PES is quantified as the difference in response time (RT) between post-error trials and post-correct trials. Here we demonstrate that this standard measurement method is prone to contamination by global fluctuations in performance over the course of an experiment. Diffusion model simulations show how global fluctuations in performance can cause either spurious detection of PES or masking of PES. Both confounds are highly undesirable and can be eliminated by a simple solution: quantify PES as the difference in RT between post-error trials and the associated pre-error trials. Experimental data are used as an empirical illustration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)208-216
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Mathematical Psychology
Volume56
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • DIFFUSION-MODEL ANALYSIS
  • COGNITIVE CONTROL
  • RESPONSE-TIMES
  • BRAIN ACTIVITY
  • TASKS
  • PERFORMANCE
  • ACCURACY
  • SPEED
  • SCHIZOPHRENIA
  • VARIABILITY

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