Cognitive psychophysology and preparatory processes: A case study

Emanuel Donchin, Michael G.H. Coles, Gabriele Gratton

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Event-Related Brain Potentials (ERPs) can be used in the study of cognitive function in general and preparatory activities in particular. This is illustrated by reference to a study of the effect of warning stimuli on ERPs and on the performance of a simulated driving task. The ERPs are viewed as scalp manifestations of intracranial activities that execute specific functional tasks in the information processing sequence. They are particularly well suited for the study of preparation because they allow the analysis of covert aspects of behavior. In the experiment described in this chapter, the subjects were warned by a series of digits displayed on their "vehicle" that they were about to encounter a packet of obstacles. The regularity of these warning digits and the length of the warning series served as independent variables. The ERPs elicited by the various warning stimuli were analyzed and several components, such as the CNV and the Slow Wave, were observed. The amplitude and scalp distribution of the components were affected by the experimental manipulations and, in turn, were correlated with the pattern of activities the subject used to avoid the obstacles. These data demonstrate that ERP measures can complement traditional behavioral measures to provide a more comprehensive picture of cognitive function than is available from the behavioral measures alone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPreparatory States and Processes
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9781317738350
ISBN (Print)9781315792385
StatePublished - Jan 22 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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