Neurophysiological correlates of error monitoring and inhibitory processing in juvenile violent offenders





Adrià Vilà-Balló, Prado Hdez-Lafuente, Carles Rostan, Toni Cunillera, Antoni Rodriguez-Fornells

Biological Psychology

7 August 2014




•Error and inhibitory related ERPs were assessed in juvenile violent offenders.

•Error monitoring was affected in juvenile offenders as showed by a decreased ERN.

•Inhibition was altered in juvenile offenders as indicated by a reduced inhibitory N2.


Performance monitoring is crucial for well-adapted behavior. Offenders typically have a pervasive repetition of harmful-impulsive behaviors, despite an awareness of the negative consequences of their actions. However, the link between performance monitoring and aggressive behavior in juvenile offenders has not been closely investigated. Event-related brain potentials (ERPs) were used to investigate performance monitoring in juvenile non-psychopathic violent offenders compared with a well-matched control group. Two ERP components associated with error monitoring, error-related negativity (ERN) and error-positivity (Pe), and two components related to inhibitory processing, the stop-N2 and stop-P3 components, were evaluated using a combined flanker-stop-signal task. The results showed that the amplitudes of the ERN, the stop-N2, the stop-P3, and the standard P3 components were clearly reduced in the offenders group. Remarkably, no differences were observed for the Pe. At the behavioral level, slower stop-signal reaction times were identified for offenders, which indicated diminished inhibitory processing. The present results suggest that the monitoring of one's own behavior is affected in juvenile violent offenders. Specifically, we determined that different aspects of executive function were affected in the studied offenders, including error processing (reduced ERN) and response inhibition (reduced N2 and P3). However, error awareness and compensatory post-error adjustment processes (error correction) were unaffected. The current pattern of results highlights the role of performance monitoring in the acquisition and maintenance of externalizing harmful behavior that is frequently observed in juvenile offenders.









Human Services and Justice Coordinating Committee