Do N1/MMN, P3a, and RON form a strongly coupled chain reflecting the three stages of auditory distraction?Biol Psychol. 2008 Oct; 79(2):139-47.BP
Distraction triggered by unexpected events is generally described in a serial model comprising (1) automatic detection of unexpected task-irrelevant events, (2) orienting towards the event, and (3) recovery from distraction. Processes taking place at the three stages are assumed to be reflected by the N1 and mismatch negativity (MMN); the P3a; and the reorienting negativity (RON) event-related potentials (ERPs), respectively. We investigated whether the processes indexed by these components form a strongly coupled chain, each co-varying with the preceding one. To this end, micro-sequence analysis of the ERPs elicited by unpredictable pitch-changes was conducted in an auditory duration discrimination task. Results indicated that the processes indexed by the above-mentioned ERPs are not strongly coupled. Pair-wise dissociations were found between the ERPs reflecting each processing stage: P3a can be elicited without concurrent N1-increase or MMN elicitation and without subsequent elicitation of the RON. Possible interpretations of P3a and RON are discussed.