The effect of background noise on P300 to suprathreshold stimuli

Salisbury DF, Desantis MA, Shenton ME, McCarley RW

Psychophysiology 2002 Jan;39(1):111-5

PMID: 12206291


Both the amplitude and latency of P300 vary with changes in stimulus parameters. Stimuli at intensities or pitch separations near threshold evoke a smaller and later P300. P300 is also affected by extraneous stimulus parameters in tasks where stimulus frequency separation is large and stimuli are well above intensity thresholds. For example, the presence of background white noise when tones are suprathreshold and easily detectable has been reported to increase P300 latency. However, the effects of background masking noise on P300 amplitude and scalp topography have not been reported. Subjects performed an oddball task both in the presence and in the absence of background noise. Performance accuracy was unaffected by background noise. P300 showed latency increases when noise was present, but P300 peak amplitude was unaffected. P300 scalp topography was stable across both conditions. P300 latency is affected by background noise, even when performance is not, but amplitude and amplitude topography remain unaffected.