With long intervals, inter-stimulus interval is the critical determinant of the human P300 amplitude

Neurosci Lett. 2004 Apr 15;359(3):143-6. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2004.01.064.


Previous research, using short inter-stimulus intervals (1-4 s), suggests that the P300 of the human event-related potential during oddball and single-stimulus tasks is mainly affected by target-to-target interval (TTI). The present study tested the validity of this claim at longer intervals in a learning task. Participants were assigned to either an oddball task with an inter-stimulus interval (ISI) of 9-20 s or a single-stimulus task with an ISI of 9-20 or 40-90 s and had to learn when to respond to the stimuli. In the oddball task, the target elicited larger amplitudes than did the standard. When comparing the stimuli from the short- and long-ISI conditions with the target from the oddball condition, it was found that the P300 was more positive at long-ISI stimuli than at short-ISI stimuli or oddball targets, and short-ISI stimuli and oddball targets elicited equally large P300 amplitudes. These results suggest that, in oddball tasks with long intervals, besides cognitive factors, ISI rather than TTI affects the P300 amplitude.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology
  • Adult
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Diagnosis, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Discrimination Learning / physiology
  • Electroencephalography / methods*
  • Event-Related Potentials, P300 / physiology*
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Photic Stimulation / methods*
  • Reaction Time / physiology*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Time Factors