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Gender influences on brain responses to errors and post-error adjustments

Fischer, Adrian G.; Danielmeier, Claudia; Villringer, Arno; Klein, Tilmann A.; Ullsperger, Markus


Adrian G. Fischer

Arno Villringer

Tilmann A. Klein

Markus Ullsperger


Sexual dimorphisms have been observed in many species, including humans, and extend to the prevalence and presentation of important mental disorders associated with performance monitoring malfunctions. However, precisely which underlying differences between genders contribute to the alterations observed in psychiatric diseases is unknown. Here, we compare behavioural and neural correlates of cognitive control functions in 438 female and 436 male participants performing a flanker task while EEG was recorded. We found that males showed stronger performance-monitoring-related EEG amplitude modulations which were employed to predict subjects’ genders with ~72% accuracy. Females showed more post-error slowing, but both samples did not differ in regard to response-conflict processing and coupling between the error-related negativity (ERN) and consecutive behavioural slowing. Furthermore, we found that the ERN predicted consecutive behavioural slowing within subjects, whereas its overall amplitude did not correlate with post-error slowing across participants. These findings elucidate specific gender differences in essential neurocognitive functions with implications for clinical studies. They highlight that within- and between-subject associations for brain potentials cannot be interpreted in the same way. Specifically, despite higher general amplitudes in males, it appears that the dynamics of coupling between ERN and post-error slowing between men and women is comparable.


Fischer, A. G., Danielmeier, C., Villringer, A., Klein, T. A., & Ullsperger, M. (2016). Gender influences on brain responses to errors and post-error adjustments. Scientific Reports, 6, Article 24435.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 30, 2016
Online Publication Date Apr 14, 2016
Publication Date Apr 14, 2016
Deposit Date Jul 9, 2016
Publicly Available Date Jul 9, 2016
Journal Scientific Reports
Electronic ISSN 2045-2322
Publisher Nature Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 6
Article Number 24435
Public URL
Publisher URL


srep24435(1).pdf (1.2 Mb)

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