A topographic study of ERPs elicited by visual feature discrimination

Brian F. O'Donnell, Joan M. Swearer, Lloyd T. Smith, Hiroto Hokama, Robert W. McCarley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

62 Scopus citations


The functional properties and topographic distribution of event-related potential (ERP) components elicited by visual discrimination of orientation, spatial frequency, spatial location, and color were investigated. ERPs were recorded from 28 electrode sites from 16 adult subjects. Five ERP components were measured: N1 (peak latency = 160 ms), P2 (250 ms), anterior N2 (260 ms), posterior N2 (280 ms), and P3 (400 ms). N1 and P2 were more negative when a stimulus was a target, showing the selection negativity effect. Feature-specific effects on component amplitude or topography varied by component. N1 and P2 were sensitive to stimulus orientation and location. Anterior or posterior N2 was sensitive to orientation, spatial frequency, and location. P3 varied with orientation, but not with other stimulus features. Cross-task comparisons of ERPs to vertical line segments in the color, orientation, and location discrimination tasks indicated that P2 and N2, but not N1 and P3, were sensitive to changes in task-demand. These data provide topographic evidence that ERP components in the 160-400 ms time domain can be differentiated on the basis to processing of specific visual features, and reflect neurophysiologically distinct visual pathways in the human cortex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-143
Number of pages11
JournalBrain Topography
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognition
  • Event-related potentials
  • Vision

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology

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