Sequential processing in an auditory equiprobable Go/NoGo task with variable interstimulus interval
A recent series of studies of the auditory equiprobable Go/NoGo task, using fixed interstimulus intervals (ISIs), proposed a processing schema relating observed event-related potential (ERP) components to sequential processing stages. However, it has been demonstrated that attention and ERP components can be affected by the predictable rhythmic timing of fixed ISIs. Hence the aim of the current study was to test the robustness of that processing schema with an unpredictable arrhythmic variable ISI. EEG was recorded from 30 university students at 30 scalp sites in an unwarned auditory equiprobable Go/NoGo task using a variable ISI. Following our previous studies, Go and NoGo ERP components were derived using temporal principal components analysis (PCA). Of the unrestricted Varimax-rotated factors, seven were identifiable as components based on their topography, polarity, and latency: two subcomponents of the N1 (N1-1, and processing negativity, PN), P2/N2b, N2c/P3a, P3b, and two subcomponents of the slow wave (SW-1 and SW-2). These components showed Go/NoGo effects comparable to those previously noted with fixed ISI, supporting the proposed processing schema. The Late Positivity (LP) component, previously speculated to mark cortical deactivation after processing the NoGo stimulus, was not present in the sequence of components. In its absence, activity underlying the observed sustained P300/late positive complex may be involved in processing temporally-uncertain stimuli.