Cocaine abuse and addiction can be characterized by a persisting use of cocaine in the face of adverse consequences. In the present study we focus on one specific element of adverse consequences: the making of errors. The aim of this study was to determine whether cocaine-dependent persons have error-processing deficits as measured using error-related negativity (ERN) and error positivity (Pe). Event-related potentials (ERPs) during an Eriksen flanker task were recorded from cocaine-dependent patients and a control group. Cocaine-addicted patients showed reduced ERN and Pe components as compared to a control group. On the behavioral level, patients showed reduced post-error accuracy improvement. The present findings reveal that cocaine addiction is associated with reduced error processing and impaired behavioral correction of errors after an error is made. These deficits may be associated with a compromised dopamine system. It is argued that these cognitive deficits may contribute to the maintenance of the cocaine addiction.

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Keywords Cocaine addiction, ERN, Error processing, Event-related potentials, Pe, Performance errors
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Journal Biological Psychology
Franken, I.H.A, van Strien, J.W, Franzek, E.J, & van de Wetering, B.J.M. (2007). Error-processing deficits in patients with cocaine dependence. Biological Psychology, 75(1), 45–51. doi:10.1016/j.biopsycho.2006.11.003