Stimulus intensity effects and sequential processing in the passive auditory ERP

Publication Name

International Journal of Psychophysiology


Auditory stimulus intensity of innocuous tones is generally thought to have a direct effect on the amplitude of ERP components, but these effects have rarely been explored across a wide component range, or in multiple paradigms. Here we investigate component sensitivity to stimulus intensity differences in two studies. Study 1 (N = 36) employed a between-participants paradigm in which repeated trains of standard stimuli were presented as 50 or 80 dB SPL 1000 Hz tones. Study 2 (N = 18) used a within-participant presentation of alternating 60 and 80 dB SPL 1000 Hz tones. Electrode caps with 19 channels (referred to linked ears) generated ERPs covering the first 600 ms of each participant's EEG responses; these were submitted to separate temporal PCAs in each study. A similar series of components was obtained in each study: P1, N1a, N1b, N1c, P2, P3a, P3b, nP3, SW1, and SW2; an N2 was found in Study 2 only. Loud tones in Study 1 produced greater amplitudes in all components except SW1. In Study 2, Loud cf. Soft tones produced smaller P1 and nP3, larger N1 components, P2, and P3a, with no effect on N2, P3b, SW1 or SW2. These results indicate similar sequential processes underlying sensory processing in one- and two-stimulus paradigms, with the later stimulus intensity effects varying with paradigm.

Open Access Status

This publication is not available as open access



First Page


Last Page




Link to publisher version (DOI)