ERP Go/NoGo condition effects are better detected with separate PCAs
We explored the separation of Go and NoGo effects in the ERP components elicited in an equiprobable Go/NoGo task, using different forms of temporal Principal Components Analysis (PCA). Following exploratory simulation studies assessing the PCA impact of latency jitter and between-condition latency differences in the P3 latency range, an empirical study compared results of a Combined PCA carried out using both Go and NoGo ERPs together as input, with those from two Separate PCAs carried out on the Go and NoGo ERPs separately. The simulation studies indicated that Separate PCAs provide adequate component recovery in the presence of P3 latency jitter, and that Combined PCAs provide good separation of components only when systematic condition-related latency differences are sufficiently large (here ~ 110 ms). In the empirical data, broadly-similar components were obtained from the Combined and Separate PCAs, supporting previous findings from Combined PCA investigations, and the consequent interpretations of the sequential processing involved. However, the Separate PCAs generated latency differences for components in the Go and NoGo processing chains that better matched the late Go/NoGo ERP peaks, and produced better-defined and larger components that fitted the stages in a hypothetical processing schema developed for this paradigm. Overall, the Separate PCAs yielded a better partitioning of the ERP variance associated with the Go and NoGo conditions, and should be considered as the first choice in future investigations if systematic component or subcomponent latency differences are present or suspected.