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Decision Making, the P3, and the Locus CoeruleusNorepinephrine System Sander Nieuwenhuis

Summary: Decision Making, the P3, and the Locus Coeruleus­Norepinephrine System
Sander Nieuwenhuis
Vrije Universiteit
Gary Aston-Jones
University of Pennsylvania
Jonathan D. Cohen
Princeton University
Psychologists and neuroscientists have had a long-standing interest in the P3, a prominent component of
the event-related brain potential. This review aims to integrate knowledge regarding the neural basis of
the P3 and to elucidate its functional role in information processing. The authors review evidence
suggesting that the P3 reflects phasic activity of the neuromodulatory locus coeruleus­norepinephrine
(LC-NE) system. They discuss the P3 literature in the light of empirical findings and a recent theory
regarding the information-processing function of the LC-NE phasic response. The theoretical framework
emerging from this research synthesis suggests that the P3 reflects the response of the LC-NE system to
the outcome of internal decision-making processes and the consequent effects of noradrenergic poten-
tiation of information processing.
Keywords: Decision making, P300, norepinephrine, source
Scalp-recorded event-related potentials (ERPs) have been of
major importance for the study of cognitive processes and the way
these processes are implemented in the brain. The P3 (or P300),


Source: Aston-Jones, Gary - Department of Neurosciences, Medical University of South Carolina
Cohen, Jonathan D. - Center for the Study of Brain, Mind and Behavior & Department of Psychology, Princeton University
Nieuwenhuis, Sander - Cognitive Psychology Unit, Universiteit Leiden


Collections: Biology and Medicine