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What is on your mind? Tapping into cognition and emotion by event-related potentials (ERPs)

Timm Rosburg


Event-related potentials (ERPs) are calculated by averaging EEG segments time-locked to events. Such events might be stimuli (the picture of murder weapon), cognitive processes (I remember that I have seen it before), or motor responses (I indicate by button press that I have seen it before). In the field of forensic psychiatry, ERPs are unfortunately still rarely used. In my presentation, I will present studies on the processing of erotic stimuli and outline how such studies might help to identify pedophilic interest. I will show studies that inform about response inhibition deficits in offenders. Moreover, I will address the topic of concealed knowledge detection. In general, ERP recordings allow the detection of behavior that would otherwise remain unobservable. Due the averaging of such responses, it is, however, not a mind-reading method but a method to identify cognitive processes with a high temporal resolution, to detect alterations of such processes by for example mental disorders or drugs, or to make some probabilistic conclusions about the presence of concealed knowledge. This plenary lecture is complemented by a workshop on ERPs, which provides some methodological background knowledge. 


Timm Rosburg, Ph.D.is a research psychologist with a vast experience in the field of clinical neurophysiology. He authored more than 70 peer-reviewed publications on this topic. Timm was until recently affiliated with the Forensic Department of the University Psychiatric Clinics Basel (Switzerland) and now works at the Department of Clinical Research of the University of Basel.