Errors have been conceptualized as internal forms of threat that can cause harm in unpredictable ways. An index of error processing is the error-related negativity (ERN), an event-related potential reflecting variability in the sensitivity to errors. Prior work has shown the relationship between psychopathology symptoms and the ERN is unclear, and may be moderated by intolerance of uncertainty (IU), a trait that captures how people react to unpredictability. IU includes two subfactors of prospective IU (active seeking of predictability) and inhibitory IU (behavioral paralysis). In the present study, 188 undergraduates performed an Eriksen flanker task designed to elicit the ERN, while brain activity was recorded using electroencephalography (EEG). Participants completed the Intolerance of Uncertainty Scale, Short Form (IUS-12), and other measures of anxiety, depression and worry. Total IU explained 5 % of the variance in correct-response negativity (CRN), but was not associated with the ERN in our sample. In contrast to previous findings, the IU subfactors did not predict the ERN or post-error slowing (PES), nor did total IU and depression interact to predict the ERN. Exploratory analyses also showed that total IU did not moderate the relationship between trait anxiety and the ERN. Small samples may have previously exaggerated the links between self-reported IU and the ERN. As such, further high-powered replications are required to confirm if, and how, they are related.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Marcelo Malbec was supported by a doctoral scholarship granted by CONICYT, the National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research of Chile ( 2018/72190432 ) during preparation of this manuscript.