Speakers continuously monitor what they say. Sometimes, self-monitoring malfunctions and errors pass undetected and uncorrected. In the field of action monitoring, an event-related brain potential, the error-related negativity (ERN), is associated with error processing. The present study relates the ERN to verbal self-monitoring and investigates how the ERN is affected by auditory distractors during verbal monitoring. We found that the ERN was largest following errors that occurred after semantically related distractors had been presented, as compared to semantically unrelated ones. This result demonstrates that the ERN is sensitive not only to response conflict resulting from the incompatibility of motor responses but also to more abstract lexical retrieval conflict resulting from activation of multiple lexical entries. This, in turn, suggests that the functioning of the verbal self-monitoring system during speaking is comparable to other performance monitoring, such as action monitoring.

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