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Success versus failure in cognitive control: Meta-analytic evidence from neuroimaging studies on error processing.

Brain mechanisms of error processing have often been investigated using response interference tasks and focusing on the posterior medial frontal cortex, which is also implicated in resolving response conflict in general. Thereby, the role other brain regions may play has remained undervalued. Here, activation likelihood estimation meta-analyses were used to synthesize the neuroimaging literature on brain activity related to committing errors versus responding successfully in interference tasks and to test for commonalities and differences. The salience network and the temporoparietal junction were commonly recruited irrespective of whether responses were correct or incorrect, pointing towards a general involvement in coping with situations that call for increased cognitive control. The dorsal posterior cingulate cortex, posterior thalamus, and left superior frontal gyrus showed error-specific convergence, which underscores their consistent involvement when performance goals are not met. In contrast, successful responding revealed stronger convergence in the dorsal attention network and lateral prefrontal regions. Underrecruiting these regions in error trials may reflect failures in activating the task-appropriate stimulus-response contingencies necessary for successful response execution.

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