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Brain potentials during mental distance judgments


Visual event-related potentials were recorded from a group of 10 normal subjects while they judged the proximity of two letters of the alphabet. Subjects viewed singly the letters A, D, G, L, N, T, W and Z and indicated by button press whether the letter displayed occurred before or after the comparison letter M. Reaction times to close letters (L and N) were longer than ordinally more distant letters (A, D, G, T, W, Z). A late parietally positive potential of approximately 475 ms covaried in latency and amplitude with these judgments. Late potentials were delayed in latency and reduced in amplitude to close letter (L and N) judgments compared to the other letters. The results suggest that mental processes, such as alphabetic distance judgments, may be usefully studied by examining their associated event-related potentials.

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