Event‐Related Potentials and the Identification of Deviant Visual Stimuli

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The effects of deviant visual stimuli on event‐related potentials were investigated in a counting task (Experiment 1) and in a reaction time task (Experiment 2). In Experiment 2 the interstimulus interval was either short or long (340 vs. 1020 ms). The stimuli (two angles within a frame) were frequent (Standard) or deviant (differing from the Standard either in the orientation of the two angles, or in the thickness of the frame, or in both of these features). In various conditions the target stimuli were defined by one of the deviant features or by the conjunction of these features. Subjects were more accurate in the counting task, and the reaction time was shortest when the target feature was the deviant angle orientation. Performance was lowest for the conjunction of the deviant features. The deviant angle orientation elicited a posterior negative wave in the 140‐180 ms range. As the interstimulus interval increased, the magnitude of this component decreased. All stimuli with relevant (attended) deviant features elicited another posterior negative wave in the 180–260 ms range as well as an anterior positivity with similar latency. When the interstimulus interval was short, and the only target was the Conjunction Deviant, the summed occipital activity to the relevant features of deviant nontarget stimuli was larger than the negativity to the Conjunction Deviant. Target stimuli elicited late positive waves, which were sometimes preceded by central negativity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)471-485
Number of pages15
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1992


  • Attentional selectivity
  • Event‐related potential
  • Identification of features
  • Visual discrimination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry

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