In cognitive tasks, error commission is usually followed by a performance characterized by post-error slowing (PES) and post-error improvement of accuracy (PIA). Three theoretical accounts were hypothesized to support these post-error adjustments: The cognitive, the inhibitory, and the orienting account. The aim of the present ERP study was to investigate the neural processes associated with the second error prevention. To this aim, we focused on the preparatory brain activities in a large sample of subjects performing a Go/No-go task. The main results were the enhancement of the prefrontal negativity (pN) component-especially on the right hemisphere-and the reduction of the Bereitschaftspotential (BP)-especially on the left hemisphere-in the post-error trials. The ERP data suggested an increased top-down and inhibitory control, such as the reduced excitability of the premotor areas in the preparation of the trials following error commission. The results were discussed in light of the three theoretical accounts of the post-error adjustments. Additional control analyses supported the view that the adjustments-oriented components (the post-error pN and BP) are separated by the error-related potentials (Ne and Pe), even if all these activities represent a cascade of processes triggered by error-commission.
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