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Latency variability and temporal interrelationships of the auditory event-related potentials (N1, P2, N2, and P3) in normal subjects


Peak latency variation and the temporal interrelationships of the auditory event-related potential were investigated in 12 normal adults (ages 28-42). Measures of variation were based on both conventional averages and single trials. Estimates of N1, P2, N2 and P3 latencies were made on a trial-by-trial basis to target stimuli recorded from Fz, Cz and Pz scalp locations. Results showed that single-trial latency variability of the auditory ERP differed both among the various components and between subjects. Larger standard deviations were measured for the later N2 and P3 components than the earlier N1 and P2 components. Regression analyses between various component latencies indicated a strong covarying relationship between N2 and P3, with N2 accounting for up to 61% of the variance of P3 latency at Pz. Earlier N1 and P2 components added little to the overall prediction of either P3 or N2. For the other components, P2 accounted for 9-16% of the variance of N2, while N1 accounted for approximately 1% of the variance of N2; N1 accounted for 8-10% of the latency variation of P2. The correlations between single-trial peak latencies and RTs were positive but of low magnitude. The highest correlations between peak latency and RT were found for N2 (r = 0.33) and P3 (r = 0.24). The low correlations between the single-trial latencies of N1 and P3 suggest that the processes reflected by these components are independent and support a distinction between the earlier and the later components of the ERP. The close temporal coupling between N2 and P3 suggests that N2 may reflect cognitive properties in common to P3 in stimulus evaluation processes.

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