The Temporal Selectivity of Additive Factor Effects on the Reaction Process Revealed in Erp Component Latencies

Fren T.Y. Smulders*, Albert Kok, J. Leon Kenemans, Theodore R. Bashmore

*Corresponding author for this work

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An experiment was conducted to relate individual components of the event-related brain potential to specific stages of information processing in a two-choice reaction time (RT) task in a group of undergraduate students. Specifically, the latency of the P300 component and the lateralized readiness potential (LRP) were studied as a function of variations in stimulus degradation and response complexity. It was hypothesized that degrading the stimulus would delay the P300 and LRP to the same extent as RT, and that increasing response complexity would affect RT but not P300 latency. The extant literature did not permit any hypothesis regarding the effect of response complexity on LRP latency. The two task variables were found to have additive effects on RT. As predicted, variations in stimulus degradation influenced the latencies of both components, whereas alterations in response complexity had no effect on P300 latency. A significant new finding was that the onset latency of the LRP remained unchanged across levels of response complexity. The overall pattern of results supports the notion of temporal selectivity of stage manipulations that is derived from discrete stage models of human information processing. Furthermore, these results refine the functional interpretation of the LRP by indicating that within the conceptual framework of a stage model the processes this component indexes succeed the start of response choice but precede the start of motor programming.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-109
Number of pages13
JournalActa Psychologica
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1995
Externally publishedYes


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