Childhood trauma predicts blunted error monitoring in adulthood: An event-related potential study

Allison M. Letkiewicz*, Justin D. Spring, Lilian Y. Li, Anna Weinberg, Stewart A. Shankman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Abuse and neglect have detrimental consequences on emotional and cognitive functioning during childhood and adolescence, including error monitoring, which is a critical aspect of cognition that has been implicated in certain internalizing and externalizing psychopathologies. It is unclear, however, whether (a) childhood trauma has effects on error monitoring and, furthermore whether, (b) error monitoring mediates the relation between childhood trauma and psychopathology in adulthood. To this end, in a large sample of young adults (ages 18–30) who were oversampled for psychopathology (N = 390), the present study assessed relations between childhood trauma and error-related negativity (ERN), which is a widely used neurophysiological indicator of error monitoring. Cumulative childhood trauma predicted ERN blunting, as did two specific types of traumas: sexual abuse and emotional neglect. Furthermore, the ERN partially mediated the effects of cumulative childhood trauma and emotional neglect on externalizing-related symptoms. Future studies should further examine the relations between childhood trauma and error monitoring in adulthood, which can help to inform intervention approaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)427-439
Number of pages13
JournalCognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2023


  • Cognitive control
  • ERP
  • Error monitoring
  • Error-related negativity, Childhood trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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