Can I Eat This? Event-Related Potentials are Modulated by Feedback Regarding Edibility
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Feedback-related negativity (FRN) is an event-related potential (ERP) component that has been shown to be sensitive to feedback during risk-taking, such that the FRN is larger for negative outcomes. Another ERP wave, the P300, is known to play a role in attentional resource allocation and is typically larger for better outcomes. The present experiment was conducted to examine the sensitivity of the FRN and P300 to processes related to appetitive motivations. Twenty-five undergraduates (15 male, mean age = 21.5 years) viewed ambiguous close-ups of food/drinks or nonfood/drinks, and indicated whether they could consume the objects. Unambiguous feedback about stimulus type was then provided. Analyses focused on ERPs to feedback-related events. In line with our expectations, a stimulus type by outcome interaction was observed for the FRN, such that amplitude was largest when participants incorrectly identified nonfoods as foods. The P300 was also sensitive to feedback, but was highest when participants correctly identified foods. These results provide support for the hypothesis that the FRN is modulated by the magnitude of negative feedback. Additionally, the enlarged P300 waves can be interpreted to represent the salience and reinforcing properties of motivationally relevant feedback to humans, especially information regarding edibility.