Event-related brain potentials reveal correlates of the transformation of stimulus functions through derived relations in healthy humans

Farina, FR and Hussey, I and Roche, RAP and others
brain research, 1599: 168—177, 2015

This research aimed to explore the neural correlates of relational learning by recording high-density EEG during a behavioural task involving derivation levels of varying complexity. A total of 15 participants (5 male; age range 18–23 years; mean age=20.0 years) completed contextual cue training, relational learning, function training and a derivation task while 128-channel event-related potentials (ERPs) were recorded from the scalp (Background). Differences in response latencies were observed between the two derived (symmetry and equivalence) and directly trained relations, with longest latencies found for equivalence and shortest for the directly trained relations. This pattern failed to reach statistical significance. Importantly, ERPs revealed an early P3a positivity (from 230 to 350 ms) over right posterior scalp sites. Significantly larger mean amplitudes were found at three channels (P6, E115 and E121) for the equivalence relations compared to the two other types (Results). We believe this may constitute a first demonstration of differences in brain electrophysiology in the transformation of stimulus functions through derived relations of hierarchical levels of complexity (Conclusions).