Psychophysiology: Human Behavior and Physiological Response

By John L. Andreassi | Go to book overview

6
Event-Related Brain Potentials and Behavior II: Mental, Sensory, Attentional, and Perceptual Activities

An interesting picture of brain function begins to emerge as we consider data obtained from event-related brain potential (ERP) studies. The brain can be considered as a highly integrated organ in which the many cortical and subcortical areas cooperate in carrying out its functions. We see this in the ERPs that develop over many areas of the brain simultaneously in response to a given stimulus. Thus, for example, topographical studies show that although occipital cortex may respond maximally to a word flashed on a screen, there is sufficient response from parietal and frontal areas to suggest that they are also involved in processing the stimulus. This chapter considers ERPs related to relatively more complex behaviors than those covered in chapter 5. Therefore, we consider some of the findings concerning the ERP and mental activities, including performance on intelligence tests, meaningfulness of material, linguistic processes, conditioning, resource allocation, and selectivity in attention. We also examine the ERP in the context of sensory, attentional, and perceptual functioning, including perception of shape, color, and motion. The long-latency ERPs and steady potential shifts (e.g., P300 and CNV) are discussed in chapter 7 with regard to their observed relationships to higher cognitive activities such as preparation for events, information processing, memory, selective attention, and decision making.


EVENT-RELATED POTENTIALS AND MENTAL ACTIVITY

This section considers a number of human mental processes as they have been related to ERPs. Among the issues discussed are whether the ERP can serve as a culture-free measure of intelligence, the effects of subjective factors on the generation of ERP components, and effects of stimulus meaning and emotional content on the ERR Other topics covered include linguistic processes and ERPs, classical and instrumental conditioning of ERPs, and mechanisms of selective attention that are suggested by ERP activity. A host of questions on perception are considered. including the nature of visual ERPs with visual masking, the influence of pattern on ERR, color effects, and how the ERP is influenced by the perception of motion.


ERPs and Intelligence

The ERP as a Culture-free Measure of Intelligence? Similar to EEG, the ERP has been viewed by some as a possible culture-free technique to assess intelligence. At first

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