Presidential Address, Society for Psychophysiological Research, Vancouver, British Columbia, October 1980.
Version of Record online: 30 JAN 2007
Volume 18, Issue 5, pages 493–513, September 1981
How to Cite
Donchin, E. (1981), Surprise!… Surprise?. Psychophysiology, 18: 493–513. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8986.1981.tb01815.x
The work of the Cognitive Psychophysiology Laboratory would not have been possible without the talents of my collaborators: graduate students, post-doctoral trainees, and colleagues on the faculty of the University of Illinois. The list is long, but it certainly includes Daniel Gopher, who is now with the Technion in Israel, Chris Wickens and Michael Coles, my colleagues in the Psychology Department, Ken Squires, Nancy Squires, John Polich, Leo Towle, and Ted Bashore, all of whom spent some time as post-doctoral associates at the Cognitive Psychophysiology Laboratory, my former students, Ron Herning, Marta Kutas, Connie Duncan-Johnson, Skip Johnson, Dick Horst, Jack Israel and Greg McCarthy. Then there are those who still toil at Illinois, or who are newly toiling there, notably Demetrios Karis, Earle Heffley, Noel Marshall, Linda Vanasse, and Arthur Kramer. Marlene Calder has provided much aid in the preparation of this report.
The research reported here has been supported under the Office of Naval Research (Contract #N00014-76-C-0002) with funds provided by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency; AFOSR under Contract Number F49620-79C-0233; Wright Patterson AFB under Contract Number F33615-79C-0512; and the Environmental Protection Agency under Contract Number R805628010. The support of Drs. Craig Fields, Judith Daly, Al Fregley, Don Woodward, Bob O'Donnell, and Dave Otto is gratefully acknowledged.
- Issue online: 30 JAN 2007
- Version of Record online: 30 JAN 2007
- Event-related brain potentials;
- Cognitive task performance;
- Stimulus probability;
- Orienting reflex;
- Memorability of events
The nature of the psychophysiological enterprise is examined as it bears on the study of the endogenous components of event-related brain potentials (ERP). The view is taken that success in Psychophysiology should be measured by the degree to which psychophysiological data can be used in elucidating the processes that underly the behavioral product rather than by the enumeration of psychophysiological “correlates” of behavior. It is proposed that endogenous ERP components are best viewed as manifestations of the activities of “subroutines” invoked during the informational transactions of the brain.
A theoretical account of an ERP component consists of the specification of the functional role of the subroutine it manifests. Studies of the P300 components are examined for the contribution they make to the development of such a theory of the P300. Experiments focusing on P300 latency and amplitude are reviewed and it is concluded that P300 may be a manifestation of the processes whereby schemas are revised. The relationship between P300 and the Orienting Reflex is discussed within the framework of this model. It is suggested that P300 amplitude may predict the memorability of events. A preliminary test of this prediction is described.