Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 202, Issue 1, pp 45–54 | Cite as

Motor and non-motor error and the influence of error magnitude on brain activity

  • Karin Graziella Nadig
  • Lutz Jäncke
  • Roger Lüchinger
  • Kai Lutz
Research Article


It has been shown that frontal cortical areas increase their activity during error perception and error processing. However, it is not yet clear whether perception of motor errors is processed in the same frontal areas as perception of errors in cognitive tasks. It is also unclear whether brain activity level is influenced by the magnitude of error. For this purpose, we conducted a study in which subjects were confronted with motor and non-motor errors, and had them perform a sensorimotor transformation task in which they were likely to commit motor errors of different magnitudes (internal errors). In addition to the internally committed motor errors, non-motor errors (external errors) were added to the feedback in some trials. We found that activity in the anterior insula, inferior frontal gyrus (IFG), cerebellum, precuneus, and posterior medial frontal cortex (pMFC) correlated positively with the magnitude of external errors. The middle frontal gyrus (MFG) and the pMFC cortex correlated positively with the magnitude of the total error fed back to subjects (internal plus external). No significant positive correlation between internal error and brain activity could be detected. These results indicate that motor errors have a differential effect on brain activity compared with non-motor errors.


Sensorimotor transformation task Error perception fMRI Internal model Posterior medial frontal cortex 



The study was supported by Swiss National Science Foundation (320000-111777). The authors are grateful to Stefan Bode for helpful comments on earlier drafts and to Marcus Cheetham for proofreading this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karin Graziella Nadig
    • 1
  • Lutz Jäncke
    • 1
  • Roger Lüchinger
    • 2
  • Kai Lutz
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of NeuropsychologyUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Institute for Biomedical Engineering, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, ETH ZurichZurichSwitzerland

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