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Impaired response selection in schizophrenia: Evidence from the P3 wave and the lateralized readiness potential


  • This study was supported by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health (MH65034 and MH06850) and by University of Maryland General Clinical Research Center Grant Number M01- RR-16500. E.S.K. was supported by an NSF graduate research fellowship.

Address reprint requests to: Steven J. Luck, UC-Davis Center for Mind & Brain, 267 Cousteau Place, Davis, CA 95618, USA. E-mail:


Reaction times (RTs) are substantially prolonged in schizophrenia patients, but the latency of the P3 component is not. This suggests that the RT slowing arises from impairments in a late stage of processing. To test this hypothesis, 20 schizophrenia patients and 20 control subjects were tested in a visual oddball paradigm that was modified to allow measurement of the lateralized readiness potential (LRP), an index of stimulus-response translation processes. Difference waves were used to isolate the LRP and the P3 wave. Patients and control subjects exhibited virtually identical P3 difference waves, whereas the LRP difference wave was reduced in amplitude and delayed in latency in the patients. These results indicate that, at least in simple tasks, the delayed RTs observed in schizophrenia are primarily a consequence of impairments in the response selection and preparation processes that follow perception and categorization.