Perceptual load in decision making: The role of anterior insula and visual areas. An ERP study

Rinaldo Livio Perri, Marika Berchicci, Valentina Bianco, Federico Quinzi, Donatella Spinelli, Francesco Di Russo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present study aimed at describing the effects of perceptual load on neurocognitive processes of decision-making. To this aim, we used a visual-motor discriminative task in which pairs of stimuli were assigned to either target or non-target categories. For each category, stimulus configuration was defined as simple or complex according to orientation and arrangement of the constituent segments. Analyses of prefrontal ERPs revealed that the pP1 component (at 180 ms) was larger for complex stimuli than simple for both categories, and the same result was found for the pP2 component (at 320 ms). Occipital ERPs revealed effects of perceptual load on the N1 component, but not on the mainly exogenous P1 component, indicating that amplitude modulations of prefrontal ERPs were not due to physical difference between simple and complex stimuli. Based on the recent literature, we discussed the pP1 activity as reflecting a process of sensory-motor integration, and the pP2 as a stimulus-response mapping process resulting from two gradients of activity: one category-based (larger for target than non-target stimuli), the other decision effort-based (enhanced when categorization implied a greater attentional load). Previous ERP-fMRI studies and present source analysis support the view that prefrontal ERPs were generated mainly by activity in the anterior Insula.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-71
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2019


  • Anterior insula
  • Decision making
  • ERP
  • Perceptual load

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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