Neural Signals for the Detection of Unintentional Race Bias

David M. Amodio, Eddie Harmon-Jones, Patricia G. Devine, John J. Curtin, Sigan L. Hartley, Alison E. Covert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examined the hypothesis that unintentional race-biased responses may occur despite the activation of neural systems that detect the need for control. Participants completed a sequential priming task that induced race-biased responses on certain trials while electroencephalography was recorded. The error-related negativity (ERN) wave, a component of the event-related potential with an anterior cingulate generator, was assessed to index neural signals detecting the need for control. Responses attributed to race bias produced larger ERNs than responses not attributed to race bias. Although race-biased responses were prevalent across participants, those with larger ERA'S to race-biased responses showed higher levels of control throughout the task (e.g., greater accuracy and slowed responding following errors). The results indicate that race-biased responses may be made despite the activation of neural systems designed to detect bias and to recruit controlled processing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)88-93
Number of pages6
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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