Does P3 reflect attentional or memory performances, or cognition more generally?

Scand J Psychol. 2000 Mar;41(1):31-40. doi: 10.1111/1467-9450.00168.


The study evaluated the off-line relationship of attention, memory and other cognitive performances with the auditory event-related potentials P3 (P300) and N2. The sample comprised 200 middle-aged construction workers. Verbal, visuomotor and memory tests were administered. Attentional domains were examined using CogniSpeed software. Slowed reaction times in the test of sustained attention (vigilance) were associated with delayed P3 latency (p < 0.001) and decreased P3 amplitude (p = 0.005), as well as with delayed N2 latency (p < 0.001). Visuomotor slowing in Digit Symbol was also related to delayed P3 latency (p = 0.030) and decreased P3 amplitude (p = 0.014). In contrast, mild cognitive impairment, short- and long-term memory, and concentrating or sharing attention with high working memory demands were not related to P3. The results suggest that P3 is linked to attentional performance with low working memory demands rather than to effortful working memory updating, retrieval from memory stores, or mild cognitive impairment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Event-Related Potentials, P300 / physiology*
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Reaction Time
  • Refractory Period, Electrophysiological
  • Sampling Studies