Decision-related cortical potentials during an auditory signal detection task with cued observation intervals

J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 1975 Aug;1(3):268-79. doi: 10.1037//0096-1523.1.3.268.


Cortical-evoked potentials were recorded from human subjects performing an auditory detection task with confidence rating responses. Unlike earlier studies that used similar procedures, the observation interval during which the auditory signal could occur was clearly marked by a visual cue light. By precisely defining the observation interval and, hence, syncrhonizing all perceptual decisions to the evoked potential averaging epoch, it was possible to demonstrate that high-confidence false alarms for accompanied by late-positive P3 components equivalent to those for equally confident hits. Moreover the hit and false alarm evoked potentials were found to covary similarily with variations in confidence rating and to have similar amplitude distributions over the scalp. In a second experiment wherein the signal intensity was increased to make signal presence and signal absence clearly discriminable and the a priori probability of signal presentation was varied from .5 to .9, it was demonstrated that correct rejections can be associated with a P3 component larger than that for hits. Thus it was possible to show, within the signal detection paradigm, how the two major factors of decision confidence and expectancy are reflected in the P3 component of the cortical-evoked potential.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Cues
  • Decision Making / physiology*
  • Discrimination, Psychological / physiology*
  • Evoked Potentials*
  • Humans
  • Psychophysics