, Volume 74, Issue 6, pp 1343-1354
Date: 15 May 2012

Sensitivity of event-related brain potentials to task rules

Abstract

Previous studies have suggested that brain potentials evoked around 300 ms after stimulus onset index the processes underlying perceptual decision-making. However, the sensitivity of these evoked potentials to the task rules, which link sensory perception to the proper action, has not been studied previously. In this study, event-related potentials (ERPs) of the human brain were examined when subjects randomly performed delayed-matching-to-identity (DMI) and delayed-matching-to-category (DMC) tasks. The results showed that the amplitudes of the brain potentials evoked 228–328 ms after test-stimulus onset varied according to the task rules and indexed the processes responsible for decision-making. In contrast to these potentials, the preceding evoked activity (< 228 ms) did not show any sensitivity to the changes in the subjects’ responses and indexed the processes responsible for stimulus perception. These findings support the idea that the potentials evoked after 228 ms from stimulus onset are influenced by the task rules and do not index simple sensory perception.