P3b is a prominent component of human event-related EEG potentials. P3b has been related to consciousness, encoding into memory, and updating of strategic schemata, among others, yet evidence has also been provided for its close relationship with deciding how to respond to the presented stimuli. P3b is large with rarely occurring stimuli and small with frequent ones. Here, we investigate the extent to which this oddball effect depends on selecting and executing responses. Participants pressed one of two keys in response to one of two letters, one of which was presented rarely and one frequently. Information about letter-key mapping was provided by a second stimulus. In different blocks, this mapping stimulus was either constant across trials or varied randomly, and either preceded or followed the letter. The oddball effect was reduced when responses were delayed (by waiting for the constant mapping stimulus following the letter) and was further reduced when responses could not be assigned to the letters (because letters were followed by varying mapping stimuli). This evidence suggests that P3b is closely related to decision processes, possibly reflecting reactivation of stimulus-response links.
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