Task relevance and recognition of concealed information have different influences on electrodermal activity and event-related brain potentials


  • We thank Kristina Engel and Kai Müller for help and support during data collection and analysis and Gerhard Vossel and Gershon Ben-Shakhar for helpful comments on an earlier version of this article.

Address reprint requests to: Matthias Gamer, Department of Systems Neuroscience, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Martinistr. 52, D-20246 Hamburg, Germany. E-mail: m.gamer@uke.uni-hamburg.de


This study aimed at differentiating between memory- and task-related processes and their correlates on the electrodermal and electrocortical level during information concealment. Variations of the Guilty Knowledge Test were implemented in two experiments while we measured skin conductance responses (SCRs) and event-related brain potentials. P300 amplitudes were specifically enhanced for items requiring a deviant behavioral response but they were not sensitive to concealed knowledge. In contrast, N200 amplitudes differed between memorized and irrelevant items in both experiments. SCR measures reflected a combined influence of task relevance and probe recognition, and they provided incremental validity above N200 amplitudes. These results suggest that the P300 mainly reflects task relevance in the given experimental setting whereas the N200 amplitude is sensitive to previously encoded information and potentially linked to response monitoring processes.