An ERP Index of Task Relevance Evaluation of Visual Stimuli

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Event-related potentials, P2a, N2b, Stimulus evaluation, Response production, Prefrontal cortex

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Recently several event-related potential attention studies have described a prefrontal positivity at about the same latency as the posterior N2 (approximately 200–300 ms), variously termed the frontal selection positivity (FSP), the anterior P2 (P2a), or the frontal P3 (P3f). These components have a similar spatio-temporal distribution and similar eliciting properties, suggesting that they represent the same component. However, these components have been differentially interpreted as arising from neural systems of feature selection, stimulus evaluation, or response production. The present study employed a visual target detection (oddball) design with different response conditions: passive (no response), overt (keypress), and covert (silent count), to examine the impact of task relevance and response production on the frontal P2a. The results showed that the P2a was present to task-relevant stimuli but had the same scalp topography and estimated source-dipole locations in both overt and covert responding, indicative of an index of stimulus evaluation, rather than response production.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Brain and Cognition, v. 56, issue 1, p. 5-13