Stimulus complexity effects on the event-related potentials to task-irrelevant stimuli

Irén Barkaszi, István Czigler, László Balázs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)


The effects of irrelevant stimuli complexity on event-related potentials were investigated in 3 conditions using both auditory and visual oddball tasks. In Conditions 1 and 2, simple standard and target stimuli were presented in series with complex, identical (Condition 1) or variable (Condition 2), task-irrelevant stimuli. In Condition 3, complex standards and targets were presented with simple, identical, task-irrelevant stimuli. In Conditions 1 and 2, but not Condition 3, the irrelevant stimuli elicited the P3a component in both auditory and visual modalities and the N2b component in the visual modality. While we found that variable, irrelevant stimuli evoked larger P3a in the auditory modality compared with identical irrelevant stimuli, we observed the opposite effect in the visual modality. These results suggest that stimuli rareness and irrelevance are not sufficient for eliciting P3a. This component is only elicited by irrelevant stimuli that are at least as complex as the task-related stimuli.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-89
Number of pages8
JournalBiological Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2013



  • Event-related potential (ERP)
  • N2b
  • Novelty
  • P3a
  • Stimulus complexity
  • Task-irrelevant stimuli

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology

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