Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour
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Theme 2: Perception, Action and Control

Performance Monitoring

Donders-ACTION-CONTROL-screen thema 2Our overarching research goal is to understand the implementation of flexible, adaptive, and goal-directed behavior in the human brain. We focus particularly on monitoring of action and action outcomes, error detection and behavioral adjustments as a consequence of performance/goal discrepancies. To this end, we employ a broad spectrum of research methods both in healthy subjects as well as neurological, neurosurgical and psychiatric patients.

We pursue a multimodal, convergent-methods approach ranging from behavioral measures via electroencephalography, intracranial recordings, functional and structural magnetic resonance imaging, psychopharmacological challenges to imaging genetics. The main research lines comprise

  • (a) the functional neuroanatomy of the performance monitoring system,
  • (b) adaptive and maladaptive changes in behavior and brain activity resulting from or leading to performance problems, respectively,
  • (c) the use of feedback information for value-based decision making,
  • (d) the neurochemical and genetic underpinnings of performance monitoring, and
  • (e) the pathology of performance monitoring in neurological and psychiatric diseases as well as its modulation by therapeutic intervention.
Name: Markus Ullsperger
Telephone: 024-3612545
Fax: 024-3616066
Visiting address: Donders Centre for Cognition
Montessorilaan 3
6525 HR Nijmegen
The Netherlands
Postal address: Donders Centre for Cognition
P.O. Box 9104
6500 HE Nijmegen
The Netherlands
Key grants and prizes
  • Research grant (PI) provided by the Dutch Organization for Scientific Research (NWO). Tiltle: “How do brain regions work together to produce adaptive behavior?” (2012)
  • Research grant (PI) provided by the German Research Foundation (DFG) Title: “Genome-wide association study with electrophysiological correlates of performance monitoring" (2010)
  • Research grant (PI) provided by theGerman Research Foundation (DFG). Title:"Error detection in Parkinson'sdisease" in the clinical research unit "Basal ganglia - cortex loops: mechanismsof pathological interaction and therapeutic modulation" (KFO 219, Cologne;2012)
  • Distinguished Scientific Award for an Early Career Contribution to Psychophysiology (Society for Psychophysiological Research, 2008)
Key publications
  • Wessel J, Danielmeier C, Morton JB, Ullsperger M (2012) Surprise and error: Common neuronal architecture for the processing of errors and novelty. The Journal of Neuroscience, 32:7528-37
  • Danielmeier C, Eichele T, Forstmann BU, Tittgemeyer M, Ullsperger M (2011) Posterior medial frontal cortex activity predicts post-error adaptations in task-related visual and motor areas. The Journal of Neuroscience, 31:1780-1789
  • Eichele T, Debener S, Calhoun VD, Specht K, Engel AK, Hugdahl K, von Cramon DY, Ullsperger M (2008) Prediction of human errors by maladaptive changes in event-related brain networks. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 105:6173-6178
  • Klein TA, Neumann J, Reuter M, Hennig J, von Cramon DY, Ullsperger M (2007) Genetically determined differences in learning from errors. Science 318:1642-1645
  • Ullsperger M, Debener S (Eds) (2010) Simultaneous EEG and fMRI: recording, analysis and application. Cambridge, MA: Oxford University Press


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Research Theme 2:
Perception, Action and Decision-making

Research Group
Performance Monitoring

Principal Investigator
Prof. M. Ullsperger

Group members

Dr. Claudia Danielmeier
Dr. Dilene van Campen

Dr. Egbert Hartstra
Jil Humann