Electrophysiological evidence for executive control and efficient categorization involved in implicit self-evaluation

Soc Neurosci. 2016;11(2):153-63. doi: 10.1080/17470919.2015.1044673. Epub 2015 Jun 16.


Self-esteem affects human life. A thorough examination of the cognitive processes and neural activations of implicit self-evaluation should aid our understanding of self-esteem. The current study examined electrophysiological correlates of implicit self-evaluation among 19 healthy participants using event-related potentials (ERPs) recorded during an Implicit Association Test (IAT). Behavioral results showed that participants responded faster in the compatible condition (compared to the incompatible condition) in which "self" was paired with "positive" traits and "others" was paired with "negative" traits, reflecting positive nature of implicit self-evaluation. ERP results showed that the incompatible condition elicited a larger N200 and a smaller P3 compared to the compatible condition. These findings indicated that both executive control and stimulus categorization were involved in implicit self-evaluation, reflected by N200 and P3, respectively. We accordingly suggested that implicit self-evaluation manifests in multiple cognitive processes.

Keywords: Event-Related Potentials; Implicit Association Test; N200; P3; Self-evaluation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Concept Formation / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Electromyography
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology*
  • Executive Function / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Self Concept*
  • Vocabulary
  • Young Adult