A brief introduction to the use of event-related potentials in studies of perception and attention

Atten Percept Psychophys. 2010 Nov;72(8):2031-46. doi: 10.3758/APP.72.8.2031.


Because of the precise temporal resolution of electrophysiological recordings, the event-related potential (ERP) technique has proven particularly valuable for testing theories of perception and attention. Here, I provide a brief tutorial on the ERP technique for consumers of such research and those considering the use of human electrophysiology in their own work. My discussion begins with the basics regarding what brain activity ERPs measure and why they are well suited to reveal critical aspects of perceptual processing, attentional selection, and cognition, which are unobservable with behavioral methods alone. I then review a number of important methodological issues and often-forgotten facts that should be considered when evaluating or planning ERP experiments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attention / physiology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Electroencephalography*
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Perception / physiology*
  • Psychophysiology