Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Emanuel Donchin


Event-related potentials, Novelty P3, Oddball paradigm, P300, Pupillometry


Events that violate expectations are biologically significant and accordingly elicit various physiological responses. We investigated the functional relationship between three of these responses: the P300, the Novelty P3 and the pupil dilation response (PDR), with a particular focus on their co-variance with reaction time and measures of subsequent memory. In a modified Novelty P3 oddball paradigm, participants semantically categorized a sequence of stimuli including (1) words of a frequent category, (2) words of an infrequent category (14% of the trials) and (3) pictures of the frequent category (14% of the trials). The Novelty P3 oddball task was followed by a recall- and a recognition test. Larger amplitudes of the P300, identified by a spatial principal component analysis (PCA), were associated with enhanced subsequent recall as well as faster reaction times during the recognition test, suggesting a close relationship between the cognitive process indexed by the P300 and memory encoding. The PDR was larger for infrequents (which required a response switch) than both frequents and pictures (which did not require a switch). Furthermore, its latency was correlated with reaction time on the same trial and with reaction time on the immediately following trial. There was only weak evidence for a correlation with subsequent memory, suggesting that the cognitive process associated with the PDR might be a direct link in the stimulus-response stream. Larger Novelty P3 amplitudes were associated with both faster reaction times on the same trial and stronger memory traces, suggesting that its amplitude might index resource allocation. These findings suggest that each of the physiological responses carries a distinct functional significance in detecting, processing, or responding to novel events, and we discuss the findings in the light of the prevalent theories of the functional significance of each response.