What is novel in the novelty oddball paradigm? Functional significance of the novelty P3 event-related potential as revealed by independent component analysis

Brain Res Cogn Brain Res. 2005 Mar;22(3):309-21. doi: 10.1016/j.cogbrainres.2004.09.006.


To better understand whether voluntary attention affects how the brain processes novel events, variants of the auditory novelty oddball paradigm were presented to two different groups of human volunteers. One group of subjects (n=16) silently counted rarely presented 'infrequent' tones (p=0.10), interspersed with 'novel' task-irrelevant unique environmental sounds (p=0.10) and frequently presented 'standard' tones (p=0.80). A second group of subjects (n=17) silently counted the 'novel' environmental sounds, the 'infrequent' tones now serving as the task-irrelevant deviant events. Analysis of event-related potentials (ERPs) recorded from 63 scalp channels suggested a spatiotemporal overlap of fronto-central novelty P3 and centro-parietal P3 (P3b) ERP features in both groups. Application of independent component analysis (ICA) to concatenated single trials revealed two independent component clusters that accounted for portions of the novelty P3 and P3b response features, respectively. The P3b-related ICA cluster contributed to the novelty P3 amplitude response to novel environmental sounds. In contrast to the scalp ERPs, the amplitude of the novelty P3 related cluster was not affected by voluntary attention, that is, by the target/nontarget distinction. This result demonstrates the usefulness of ICA for disentangling spatiotemporally overlapping ERP processes and provides evidence that task irrelevance is not a necessary feature of novelty processing.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / methods*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Electroencephalography / methods
  • Event-Related Potentials, P300 / physiology*
  • Exploratory Behavior / physiology*
  • Female
  • Habituation, Psychophysiologic / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Principal Component Analysis*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology