About this Research Topic
In our everyday life, we constantly monitor our behaviour and adapt our responses following performance errors and feedback information from our environment. Receiving positive or negative feedback, which can be social, monetary or some other type of feedback classifiable as good or bad, can encourage us to continue with a specific action or may lead us to discontinue the same behaviour, respectively. Additionally, we daily observe errors being committed by other people or other people receiving feedback for their behaviour. We are able to infer how they feel in response to errors or feedback, and whether we feel sorry for their failures and happy about their successes may depend on our empathic concern and on the relationship to the observed person. At the same time, we can also learn from other people’s errors by adaptively modifying our own behaviour.
Recently, a growing number of researchers in the neuroscientific community has begun to establish links between the ability to empathize with others and error/feedback processing. The ACC seems to be strongly involved in both error/feedback processing and in affective empathic responding, and positive relationships between error- and feedback-related ACC activity and self-rated dispositional empathy have been reported. Various contextual factors, like the relationship between the observer and the observed person, or person-related characteristics, like age, gender and psychopathological symptoms, may potentially modify this relationship.
In spite of these theoretical advances, there are still crucial gaps in our knowledge of the different contextual factors and personality characteristics that affect performance monitoring in humans. For instance, it is not well understood how different empathy components might relate to different stages and different forms of error/feedback processing. Also, the ability to engage in empathic perspective taking might be more related to observational than to active learning; and empathy should become more relevant when the behaviour observed in someone else is also relevant for one’s own actions. One promising account in studying the relationship between person characteristics, performance context and action monitoring is the investigation of these concepts across the lifespan. While performance monitoring might be increasingly compromised in older individuals due to structural and functional changes in the relevant brain areas, it might be partly compensated for by a heightened tendency and experience to engage in affective perspective taking. Furthermore, studying clinical populations may help us to disentangle the complex interdependence between performance monitoring and psychopathological symptoms.
Overall, for the current Research Topic issue, we would like to solicit original research articles, reviews as well as opinion and method papers, which investigate the neurocognitive mechanisms supporting performance monitoring providing a link to contextual factors or personality traits. Studies using a range of different methods (behavioural, imaging, electrophysiological, etc.), investigating healthy populations with or without a lifespan perspective or clinical populations are welcome, and authors with different academic backgrounds and working in different disciplines are encouraged to participate in order to promote a lively and integrative debate.
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.