Monitoring the consequences of actions is of crucial importance in order to optimize behavior to the challenges of the environment. Recently the age-related aspects of this fundamentally important cognitive processing have been brought into the focus of investigation since behavioral monitoring and related control mechanisms are widely known to be affected by aging. Processing of feedback stimuli is a core mechanism for rapid evaluation of the functionally significant aspects of outcome, guiding behavior towards avoidance or approach. The aim of the present study was to analyze the age-related alterations in the most prominent electrophysiological correlates of feedback processing, the feedback-related negativity (FRN) and the P3 event-related potential components, using a two-choice-single-outcome gambling task with two amounts of monetary stakes. In terms of behavioral indices higher proportion of risky choices was observed after loss than after gain events in both groups. In the young the FRN component was found to be an indicator of the goodness of outcome (loss or gain), and the P3 showed a complex picture of feedback evaluation with selective sensitivity to large amount of gain. In contrast, in the elderly group outcome valence had no effect on the amplitude of the FRN, and the P3 was also insensitive of the complex outcome properties. As the ERP-correlates of feedback processing are not as pronounced in the elderly, it is suggested that normal aging is accompanied by an alteration of the neural mechanisms signaling the most salient feedback stimulus properties.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Physiology (medical)