To investigate whether the P300 (P3) event-related potential (ERP) can be used as an index of the intactness of recognition memory in subjects trying to simulate amnesia, two groups of subjects (n = 12 and n = 15) were instructed to simulate amnesia and one group of control subjects (n = 14) did not simulate amnesia while taking three recognition tests, during which ERPs were recorded. The three tests consisted of three different types of memory items: (1) the subject's birthday (birth), (2) the experimenter's name (name), (3) a word list of 14 nouns (words). The memory item was presented in a random series with other, similar in type, non-memory items. In group tests, memory items evoked larger amplitude P3s than non-memory items (p < 0.001). Within-subjects tests were used to determine whether the P3 amplitude in response to memory items was larger than the P3 amplitude in response to non-memory items for each individual. There was no difference between the sensitivity of the best within-subjects tests for amnesia simulators (birth = 0.9, name = 0.85, words = 0.53) versus non-simulators (birth = 1.0, name = 0.81, words = 0.5) averaged across the three test types. This suggests that P3 used as an index of the intactness of recognition memory may be useful in cases of suspected malingering.
- Event-related potential
- Simulated amnesia
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Physiology (medical)