Publication Details

Barry, R. J., Steiner, G. Z. & De Blasio, F. M. (2016). Reinstating the Novelty P3. Scientific Reports, 6 31200-1-31200-13.


P300 (or P3) is a major positive complex in the human event-related potential, occurring some 300 ms after stimulus onset, and long thought to be the cortical correlate of the Orienting Reflex, our automatic attention-grabbing response to a novel stimulus. The Novelty P3 was the third P3 subcomponent discovered (after P3a and P3b) and appeared promising in its sensitivity to stimulus novelty, the defining characteristic of the Orienting Reflex. But some 15 years later it was claimed to be indistinguishable from the previously-discovered P3a. This led to a decline in interest in the field and confused nomenclature, with some studies using "P3a" and "Novelty P3" interchangeably. However, recent similar studies have again reported three subcomponents of the P3. Further, using single-stimulus habituation paradigms, in addition to P3a and P3b, a later decrementing P3 subcomponent has been reported, and recently labelled "HabP3" to avoid contention. We report three studies to resolve this chaotic situation, arguing for identification of the late subcomponent following the P3a and P3b as the Novelty P3. Reinstatement of the Novelty P3 as the central index of the Orienting Reflex will have widespread impact in a range of theoretical, practical, and clinical areas involving novelty processing and attention.



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