Annekathrin Schacht, Olaf Dimigen and Werner Sommer

Emotions in cognitive conflicts are not aversive but are task specific.

Cognitive, Affective & Behavioral Neuroscience

It has been suggested that cognitive conflicts require effortful processing and, therefore, are aversive. In the present study, we compared conflicts emerging from the inhibition of a predominant response tendency in a go/no-go task with those between incompatible response activations in a Simon task in a within-subjects design, using the same type of stimuli. Whereas no-go trials elicited reduced skin conductance and pupillometric responses, but prolonged corrugator muscle activity, as compared with go trials, incompatible and compatible Simon trials were indistinguishable with respect to these parameters. Furthermore, the conflict-sensitive N2 components of the event-related brain potential were similar in amplitude, but showed significantly different scalp distributions, indicating dissociable neural generator systems. The present findings suggest the involvement of different emotional and cognitive processes in both types of cognitive conflicts-none being aversive, however. In addition, the N2 findings call into question claims of common monitoring systems for all kinds of cognitive conflicts.