We investigated the event-related potentials (N250 and P300) during three kinds of somatosensory discrimination tasks (oddball task). Strong (standard: 90%) and weak (deviant: 10%) electrical stimuli were randomly delivered to the right median nerve at the wrist with a 500-ms constant interstimulus interval. In a passive situation, subjects read a self-selected book, ignoring all stimuli (ignore condition). One of the active situations was a mental counting task (count condition), and another required pressing a button to deviant stimuli as quickly as possible (motor response condition). The N250-P300 complex was elicited by deviant stimuli in the active-attended situations, but not found in the ignore condition. The N250 peak amplitude was unchanged between the count and motor response conditions whereas P300 changed. In addition, the N250 latency significantly correlated with the reaction time, but the P300 latency did not. These results indicate that the somatosensory N250 reflects an attentive process which is related to the temporal aspect of behavioral response.
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