Theta and Delta Responses in Cognitive Event-Related Potential Paradigms and Their Possible Psychophysiological Correlates

  • Erol Başar
  • Martin Schürmann
  • Canan Başar-Eroglu
  • Tamer Demiralp


This chapter combines a review of event-related potentials (ERPs) with empirical data concerning the question: What are the differences between auditory evoked potentials (EPs) and two types of ERPs with respect to their frequency components? In this study, auditory EPs were elicited by 1500-Hz tones. The first type of ERPs was responses to third attended tones in an omitted stimulus paradigm where every fourth stimulus was omitted. The second type of ERPs was responses to rare 1600-Hz tones in an oddball paradigm. The amplitudes of delta and theta components of EPs and ERPs showed significant differences: In responses to third attended tones, there was a significant increase in the theta frequency band (frontal and parietal locations; 0–250 msec). In delta frequency band, there was no significant change. In contrast a diffuse delta increase occurred in oddball responses, and an additional prolongation of theta oscillations was observèd (late theta response, 250–500 msec). These results are discussed in the scope of ERPs as induced rhythmicities. The intracranial sources of ERPs, their psychological correlates, and the role of theta rhythms in the corticohippocampal interaction are reviewed. From these results and from the literature a working hypothesis is derived assuming that delta responses are mainly involved in signal matching, decision making, and surprise, whereas theta responses are more related to focused attention and signal detection.


Theta Activity Theta Rhythm Auditory Evoke Potential Oddball Paradigm Theta Oscillation 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erol Başar
  • Martin Schürmann
  • Canan Başar-Eroglu
  • Tamer Demiralp

There are no affiliations available

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