Two varieties of long-latency positive waves evoked by unpredictable auditory stimuli in man

Author(s): Squires NK, Squires KC, Hillyard SA


Two distinct late-positive components of the scalp-recorded auditory evoked potential were identified which differed in their latency, scalp topography and psychological correlates. The earlier component, called "P3a" (latency about 240 msec), was elicited by infrequent, unpredictable shifts of either intensity or frequency in a train of tone pips whether the subject was ignoring (reading a book) or attending to the tones (counting). The later component, called "P3a" (mean latency about 350 msec), occurred only when the subject was actively attending to the tones; it was evoked by the infrequent, unpredictable stimulus shifts, regardless of whether the subject was counting that stimulus or the more frequently occurring stimulus. Both of these distinct psychophysiological entities have previously been refered to as the "P3" or "P300" in the literature.

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