Beyond the FRN: Broadening the time-course of EEG and ERP components implicated in reward processing

James E. Glazer*, Nicholas J. Kelley, Narun Pornpattananangkul, Vijay A. Mittal, Robin Nusslock

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

124 Scopus citations


Most reward-related electroencephalogram (EEG) studies focus exclusively on the feedback-related negativity (FRN, also known as feedback negativity or FN, medial-frontal negativity or MFN, feedback error-related negativity or fERN, and reward positivity or RewP). This component is usually measured approximately 200–300 ms post-feedback at a single electrode in the frontal-central area (e.g., Fz or FCz). The present review argues that this singular focus on the FRN fails to leverage EEG's greatest strength, its temporal resolution, by underutilizing the rich variety of event-related potential (ERP) and EEG time-frequency components encompassing the wider temporal heterogeneity of reward processing. The primary objective of this review is to provide a comprehensive understanding of often overlooked ERP and EEG correlates beyond the FRN in the context of reward processing with the secondary goal of guiding future research toward multistage experimental designs and multicomponent analyses that leverage the temporal power of EEG. We comprehensively review reward-related ERPs (including the FRN, readiness potential or RP, stimulus-preceding negativity or SPN, contingent-negative variation or CNV, cue-related N2 and P3, Feedback-P3, and late-positive potential or LPP/slow-wave), and reward-related EEG time-frequency components (changes in power at alpha, beta, theta, and delta bands). These electrophysiological signatures display distinct time-courses, scalp topographies, and reflect independent psychological processes during anticipatory and/or outcome stages of reward processing. Special consideration is given to the time-course of each component and factors that significantly contribute to component variation. Concluding remarks identify current limitations along with recommendations for potential important future directions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)184-202
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Psychophysiology
StatePublished - Oct 2018


  • Anticipation
  • EEG
  • ERP
  • Outcome
  • Review
  • Reward

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Neuroscience(all)


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