Error-Likelihood Prediction in the Medial Frontal Cortex: A Critical Evaluation
A recent study has proposed that posterior regions of the medial frontal cortex (pMFC) learn to predict the likelihood of errors occurring in a given task context. A key prediction of the error-likelihood (EL) hypothesis is that the pMFC should exhibit enhanced activity to cues that are predictive of high compared with low error rates. We conducted 3 experiments, 2 using functional neuroimaging and 1 using event-related potentials, to test this prediction in human volunteers. The 3 experiments replicated previous research in showing clear evidence of increased pMFC activity associated with errors, conflict, negative feedback, and other aspects of task performance. However, none of the experiments yielded evidence for an effect of cue-signaled EL on pMFC activity or any indication that such an effect developed with learning. We conclude that although the EL hypothesis presents an elegant integrative account of pMFC function, it requires additional empirical support to remain tenable.