Possible role of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in error awareness: Single-pulse TMS evidence

Fabio Masina, Antonino Vallesi, Elisa Di Rosa, Luca Semenzato, Daniela Mapelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Error awareness is essential to maintain an adaptive and goal-directed behavior and is supposed to rely on the activity of the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). However, studies employing electrophysiological methods and functional resonance imaging (fMRI) do not allow to establish a causal relationship between error awareness and implicated brain structures. Objective: The study examined the causal relationship between DLPFC activity and error awareness in order to confirm the involvement of the right DLPFC in error awareness and to obtain temporal information about this process, namely when the activity of the right DLPFC is involved in error awareness. Methods: Three experiments with three different samples were conducted employing on-line Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). A paired-pulse and a single-pulse on-line TMS paradigm were employed respectively in Experiments 1 and 3, whereas in Experiment 2 a control test was conducted without TMS. In TMS experiments, the right DLPFC was stimulated, considering the left DLPFC and the Vertex as control sites. Results: Experiment 1 showed no effect of paired-pulse TMS over either right or left DLPFC on error awareness. In Experiment 3, independently from the time point during which TMS was delivered, results showed a significant effect of single-pulse TMS over the DLPFC on Stroop Awareness, without evidence for lateralization of the process. Conclusions: Results of the present study partially demonstrate the involvement of the DLPFC in error awareness.

Original languageEnglish
Article number179
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
Issue numberMAR
Publication statusPublished - Mar 21 2018


  • Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex
  • Error awareness
  • Null findings
  • On-line TMS
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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