Date Awarded

Spring 2022

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (M.Sc.)

Department

Psychology

Advisor

Paul Kieffaber

Committee Member

Matthew Hillmire

Committee Member

Cheryl Dickter

Abstract

We are constantly making decisions in everyday life that involve interactions with our environment: from simple behaviors like deciding to reach for your cup of coffee to complex behaviors like deciding which route to take to work. It is well known that these decisions require constant monitoring, such that decision-making is not a discrete event and requires initiation, monitoring, and evaluation for success. This process can be seen during error-corrections, in which an initial plan was implemented, an error was recognized, and a new plan was implemented to correct the initial response. While we have learned a great deal about response monitoring processes over three decades of research in cognitive neuroscience, most of the literature has used button-presses, which does not permit evaluation of the processes involved in the monitoring, cancellation, or correction of erroneous behaviors.

Understanding the neural correlates of the response monitoring process may contribute to an improved understanding of cognitive aging as the natural aging process has revealed to impact this decision-making process, as older adults commit more errors than younger adults on cognitive tasks, as well as experience slower correct responses compared to younger adults. However, the current literature regarding what neurological processes are impaired as a result of the natural aging process remains to be unknown.

Purpose: The primary aims of this study were (1) to delineate the neural correlates of response-monitoring process during correct, incorrect, and corrected trials as indicated by kinematic markers of the decision-making processes, and (2) to determine the integrity of these neural responses in older adults.

Results reveal that the ERN, Pe, and medial-frontal theta oscillations are highly correlated with response cancellation in only younger adults, and these correlations significantly differ between older and younger adults such that older adults had significantly reduced correlations. Source localization also further confirm that the ERN and Pe are related to caudal anterior cingulate cortex activation (ACC) in both older and younger adults.

Rights

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