Neuropsychological parameters indexing executive processes are associated with independent components of ERPs

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Lesion studies have indicated that at least the three executive processes can be differentiated in the frontal lobe: Energization, monitoring and task setting. Event related potentials (ERPs) in Go/NoGo tasks have been widely used in studying executive processes. In this study, ERPs were obtained from EEG recorded during performance of a cued Go/NoGo task. The Contingent Negative Variation (CNV) and P3NoGo waves were decomposed into four independent components (ICs), by applying Independent Component Analysis (ICA) to a collection of ERPs from 193 healthy individuals. The components were named IC CNVearly, IC CNVlate, IC P3NoGoearly and IC P3NoGolate according to the conditions and time interval in which they occurred. A sub-group of 28 individuals was also assessed with neuropsychological tests. The test parameters were selected on the basis of studies demonstrating their sensitivity to executive processes as defined in the ROtman-Baycrest Battery for Investigating Attention (ROBBIA) model. The test scores were categorized into the domain scores of energization, monitoring and task setting and correlated with the amplitudes of the individual ICs from the sub-group of 28 individuals. The energization domain correlated with the IC CNVlate and IC P3NoGoearly. The monitoring domain correlated with the IC P3NoGolate, while the task setting domain correlated with the IC CNVlate. The IC CNVearly was not correlated with any of the neuropsychological domain scores. The correlations between the domains and ICs remained largely unchanged when controlling for full-scale IQ. This is the first study to demonstrate that executive processes, as indexed by neuropsychological test parameters, are associated with particular event-related potentials in a cued Go/NoGo paradigm.

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