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Relationship between the P3 event-related potential, its associated time-frequency components, and externalizing psychopathology


  • This research was supported by grants DA 05147, DA 13240, DA 024417, and K08 MH080239 (Bernat) from the National Institutes of Health.

Address reprint requests to: Casey Gilmore, Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota, Elliott Hall, 75 East River Road, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA. E-mail:


P3 amplitude reduction (P3-AR) is associated with biological vulnerability to a spectrum of externalizing disorders, such as ADHD, conduct disorder, and substance use disorders. P3, however, is generally characterized as a broad activation involving multiple neurophysiological processes. One approach to separating P3-related processes is time-frequency (TF) analysis. The current study used a novel PCA-based TF analysis method to investigate relationships between P3, its associated TF components, and externalizing in a community-based sample of adolescent males. Results showed that 1) alone, P3 and each TF-PCA derived component could successfully discriminate diagnostic groups from controls, and 2) delta components in specific time ranges accounted for variance beyond that accounted for by P3. One delta component was associated with all diagnostic groups, suggesting it may represent a more parsimonious endophenotype for externalizing than P3-AR.