Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Previous research has shown that task-irrelevant onsets trigger an eye movement in their direction. Such oculomotor capture is often impervious to conscious awareness. The present study used event-related brain potentials to examine how such oculomotor errors are detected, evaluated, and compensated for and whether awareness of an error played a role at any of these stages of processing. The results show that the early processes of error detection and correction (as represented by the error-related negativity and the parietal N1) are not directly affected by subjective awareness of making an error. Instead, they seem to be modulated by the degree of temporal overlap between the programming of the correct and erroneous saccade. We found that only a later component (the error-related positivity [Pe]) is modulated by awareness of making an erroneous eye movement. We propose that awareness of oculomotor capture primarily depends on this later process.