An overview of age-related changes in the scalp distribution of P3b

David Friedman, Victoria Kazmerski, Monica Fabiani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

151 Scopus citations


In this overview of 7 studies, the scalp distribution of the P3b component (i.e. the P3 or P300) of the event-related potential elicited by target events in young and older adults was assessed. The target P3b data were recorded in either auditory oddball paradigms or in visual study tasks in which orienting activity was manipulated (as a within-subjects variable) in investigations of indirect memory. Some of the studies required choice reaction time responses, whereas others required responses only to the target stimuli. Motor response requirements had a profound effect on the P3b scalp distribution of older but not of younger subjects. The presence of a frontally oriented scalp focus in the topographies of the older adults in most of the tasks described here is consistent with older adults continuing to use prefrontal processes for stimuli that should have already been well encoded and/or categorized. However, although older subjects generally had different P3b scalp distributions than younger subjects, their scalp distributions were modulated similarly by task requirements. These data suggest that similar mechanisms modulate the scalp distribution of P3b in older compared to younger adults. However, in the older adult, these scalp distribution changes in response to task demands are superimposed on a frontally oriented scalp focus due to a putative frontal lobe contribution to target P3b topography.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)498-513
Number of pages16
JournalElectroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology - Evoked Potentials
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology


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