The P3 cognitive ERP has at least some sensory modality-specific generators: Evidence from high-resolution EEG

Psychophysiology. 2017 Mar;54(3):416-428. doi: 10.1111/psyp.12800. Epub 2016 Dec 31.


The P3 can arguably be named the most intensely studied ERP. In spite of more than 40 years of research, fundamental questions regarding the nature of its neural generators remain unresolved. While most studies conclude that the P3 is a true classical "endogenous" potential, and that its surface potential distribution remains constant across sensory modalities, these results are largely based on low-density EEG recordings, without the use of high-resolution methods such as the spherical spline Laplacian (SSL). Seventeen healthy participants performed a three-stimulus oddball task in visual and auditory modality while their EEG was recorded using a 128-channel system. Comparison of amplitude-normalized SSL estimated P3 brain-surface potentials, and analysis of spatial and temporal correlations revealed significant differences between visual and auditory evoked P3 topographies from target and distractor stimuli (but not target minus frequent or distractor minus frequent comparisons). Based on these results, we postulate the likely existence of at least some sensory modality-specific neuronal generators of the P3.

Keywords: Attention; Auditory; EEG; ERP; P3/P300; Visual.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adult
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography / methods
  • Event-Related Potentials, P300*
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Visual Perception / physiology*
  • Young Adult