Nucleus accumbens is involved in human action monitoring: Evidence from invasive electrophysiological recordings

Thomas F. Münte, Marcus Heldmann, Hermann Hinrichs, Josep Marco-Pallares, Ulrike M. Krämer, Volker Sturm, Hans Jochen Heinze

54 Citations (Scopus)


The Nucleus accumbens (Nacc) has been proposed to act as a limbic-motor interface. Here, using invasive intraoperative recordings in an awake patient suffering from obsessive-compulsive disease (OCD), we demonstrate that its activity is modulated by the quality of performance of the subject in a choice reaction time task designed to tap action monitoring processes. Action monitoring, that is, error detection and correction, is thought to be supported by a system involving the dopaminergic midbrain, the basal ganglia, and the medial prefrontal cortex. In surface electrophysiological recordings, action monitoring is indexed by an error-related negativity (ERN) appearing time-locked to the erroneous responses and emanating from the medial frontal cortex. In preoperative scalp recordings the patient's ERN was found to be significantly increased compared to a large (n = 83) normal sample, suggesting enhanced action monitoring processes. Intraoperatively, error-related modulations were obtained from the Nacc but not from a site 5 mm above. Importantly, crosscorrelation analysis showed that error-related activity in the Nacc preceded surface activity by 40 ms. We propose that the Nacc is involved in action monitoring, possibly by using error signals from the dopaminergic midbrain to adjust the relative impact of limbic and prefrontal inputs on frontal control systems in order to optimize goal-directed behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Issue numberMAR
Publication statusPublished - 28.03.2008

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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