The ability to reconcentrate on the present situation by recognizing one’s own recent errors is a cognitive mechanism that is crucial for safe and appropriate behavior in a particular situation. However, an individual may not be able to adequately perform a subsequent task even if he/she recognize his/her own error; thus, it is hypothesized that the neural mechanisms underlying the reconcentration process are different from the neural substrates supporting error recognition. The present study performed a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) analysis to explore the neural substrates associated with reconcentration related to achieving an appropriate cognitive state, and to dissociate these brain regions from the neural substrates involved in recognizing one’s own mistake. This study included 44 healthy volunteers who completed an experimental procedure that was based on the Eriksen flanker task and included feedback regarding the results of the current trial. The hemodynamic response induced by each instance of feedback was modeled using a combination of the successes and failures of the current and subsequent trials in order to identify the neural substrates underlying the ability to reconcentrate for the next situation and to dissociate them from those involved in recognizing current errors. The fMRI findings revealed significant and specific activation in the dorsal aspect of the medial prefrontal cortex (MFC) when participants successfully reconcentrated on the task after recognizing their own error based on feedback. Additionally, this specific activation was clearly dissociated from the activation foci that occurred during error recognition. These findings indicate that the dorsal aspect of the MFC may be a distinct functional region that specifically supports the reconcentration process and that is associated with the prevention of successive errors when a human subject recognizes his/her own mistake. Furthermore, it is likely that this reconcentration mechanism acts as a trigger to perform successful post-error behavioral adjustments.
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