Active and Passive P3 Latency in Dementia: Relationship to Psychometric, Electroencephalographic, and Computed Tomographic Measures

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Neurology; Department of Psychiatry

Publication Date


Document Type



Dementia; Aging; Aged; Event-Related Potentials, P300; Psychometrics; Electroencephalography; Evoked Potentials, Auditory


Neurology | Neuroscience and Neurobiology


The clinical and psychometric correlates of P3 latency were investigated in demented (n = 30) and nondemented subjects (n = 20). The P3 response was evoked in auditory oddball paradigms with and without task demands. In one paradigm, the subject was required to actively count the rare target tones; in the other, a P3 response was passively evoked by rare, disparate tones unassociated with task demands. Only 17 of 30 demented patients could perform the counting task in the active P3 condition. The active and passive P3 responses were both prolonged in dementia. In the demented group, passive P3 response latency correlated with subtest results from the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Revised and Wechsler Memory Scale, clinical disease severity, and electroencephalographic abnormalities, but not with the degree of atrophy seen on computed tomography scan. In the control group, active but not passive P3 latency was consistently correlated with psychometric performance. When the demented and control subjects were combined into a single group, passive and active P3 latency correlated with all psychometric measures. Despite the absence of task demands, passive P3 latency was related to the presence and severity of dementia. The active P3 response may be more closely associated with intellectual performance than the passive P3 response in nondemented older adults.

(C) Lippincott-Raven Publishers.


O'Donnell, B.F., Friedman S., Squires, N.K., Maloon, A., Drachman, D.A., and Swearer, J.M. (1990). Active and passive P3 responses in dementia: Relationship to psychometric, EEG, and CT measures. Neuropsychiatry, Neuropsychology, and Behavioral Neurology. Vol. 3: pp 169-179. Link to article on publisher's website. Journal is now called Cognitive & Behavioral Neurology.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Neuropsychiatry, Neuropsychology, and Behavioral Neurology. Vol. 3

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