Abstract

Anticipation, monitoring, and evaluation of the outcome of one's actions are at the core of proactive control. Individuals with lesions to OFC often demonstrate behaviors that indicate a lack of recognition or concern for the negative effects of their actions. Altered action timing has also been reported in these patients. We investigated the role of OFC in predicting and monitoring the sensory outcomes of self-paced actions. We studied patients with focal OFC lesions (n = 15) and healthy controls (n = 20) while they produced actions that infrequently evoked unexpected outcomes. Participants performed a self-paced, random generation task where they repeatedly pressed right and left buttons that were associated with specific sensory outcomes: a 1- and 2-kHz tone, respectively. Occasional unexpected action outcomes occurred (mismatch) that inverted the learned button–tone association (match). We analyzed ERPs to the expected and unexpected outcomes as well as action timing. Neither group showed post-mismatch slowing of button presses, but OFC patients had a higher number of fast button presses, indicating that they were inferior to controls at producing regularly timed actions. Mismatch trials elicited enhanced N2b-P3a responses across groups as indicated by the significant main effect of task condition. Planned within-group analyses showed, however, that patients did not have a significant condition effect, suggesting that the result of the omnibus analysis was driven primarily by the controls. Altogether, our findings indicate that monitoring of action timing and the sensory outcomes of self-paced actions as indexed by ERPs is impacted by OFC damage.

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