On why targets evoke P3 components in prediction tasks: Drawing an analogy between prediction and matching tasks

Rolf Verleger*, Stephanie Cäsar, Bastian Siller, Kamila Smigasiewicz

*Corresponding author for this work


P3 is the most conspicuous component in recordings of stimulus-evoked EEG potentials from the human scalp, occurring whenever some task has to be performed with the stimuli. The process underlying P3 has been assumed to be the updating of expectancies. More recently, P3 has been related to decision processing and to activation of established stimulus-response associations (S/R-link hypothesis). However, so far this latter approach has not provided a conception about how to explain the occurrence of P3 with predicted stimuli, although P3 was originally discovered in a prediction task. The present article proposes such a conception. We assume that the internal responses right or wrong both become associatively linked to each predicted target and that one of these two response alternatives gets activated as a function of match or mismatch of the target to the preceding prediction. This seems similar to comparison tasks where responses depend on the matching of the target stimulus with a preceding first stimulus (S1). Based on this idea, this study compared the effects of frequencies of first events (predictions or S1) on target-evoked P3s in prediction and comparison tasks. Indeed, frequencies not only of targets but also of first events had similar effects across tasks on target-evoked P3s. These results support the notion that P3 evoked by predicted stimuli reflects activation of appropriate internal “match” or “mismatch” responses, which is compatible with S/R-link hypothesis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number497
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 10.10.2017

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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