We examined scalp-recorded event-related potentials following feedback stimuli in a time-estimation task. Six hundred msec after indicating the end of a 1 sec interval, subjects received a visual, auditory, or somatosensory stimulus that indicated whether the interval they had produced was correct. Following feedback indicating incorrect performance, a negative deflection occurred, whose characteristics corresponded closely to those of the component (the error-related negativity) that accompanies errors in choice reaction time tasks. Furthermore, equivalent dipole analysis suggested that, for all three modalities, the distribution of the scalp potential was consistent with a local source in the anterior cingulate cortex or a more distributed source in the supplementary motor areas. These loci correspond closely to those described previously for the error-related negativity. We conclude that the error-related negativity is the manifestation of the activity of a “generic” neural system involved in error detection.

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