Event-Related Brain Potentials as Indices of Information Extraction and Response Priming

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P300, Lateralized readiness potential, Stimulus priming, Response priming, Information extraction

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Measures of overt response and of the event-related brain potential (ERP) were used to investigate the processing of a priming stimulus varying in its information content. Subjects were shown sequences of 2 letters that served as a priming and an imperative stimulus. In 3 randomly interspersed conditions the imperative stimulus had a 0.80, 0.50, or 0.20 probability of physically matching the priming letter. The different probability conditions were signaled by the position of a dot flanking the priming letter. Reaction time and accuracy data indicated that the subjects primed their responses as a function of the information conveyed by the priming stimulus. The amplitude and latency of the P300 to the priming stimulus were sensitive to the amount of information conveyed by the priming stimulus and the duration of the processing required. The readiness potential in the foreperiod was lateralized as a function of the priming stimulus. Furthermore, the larger the amplitude of the P300 to the priming stimulus, the larger the lateralization of the readiness potential, indicating that information extraction, indexed by the P300, was related to response priming, indexed by the readiness potential. The results indicate that ERP measures make manifest covert aspects of the priming process occurring in the foreperiod.

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Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology, v. 75, issue 5, p. 419-432