Caffeine strengthens action monitoring: evidence from the error-related negativity

Zoe Tieges, K. Richard Ridderinkhof, Jan Snel, Albert Kok

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Citations (Scopus)


The medial frontal cortex, especially the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), is involved in action monitoring. We studied the role of moderate amounts of caffeine in action monitoring as expressed by the error-related negativity (ERN), an event-related brain component that reflects ACC activity. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, within-subjects experiment, two caffeine doses (3 and 5 mg/kg body weight) and a placebo were administered to habitual coffee drinkers. Compared with placebo, both caffeine doses enlarged the ERN. Amplitudes of the P2 and P3 components were not affected by caffeine. Thus, the enlarged ERN after caffeine reflects a specific effect on action monitoring. We conclude that consumption of a few cups of coffee strengthens central information processing, specifically the monitoring of ongoing cognitive processes for signs of erroneous outcomes. Brain areas related to action monitoring such as the ACC presumably mediate these caffeine effects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-93
JournalBrain Research
Issue number1
Early online date14 Jul 2004
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2004


  • caffeine
  • action monitoring
  • error-related negativity
  • ERN
  • event-related potential
  • ERP
  • medial frontal cortex
  • anterior cingulate cortex


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