Directors: Antonio M. Battro, Kurt W. Fischer and Diego Golombek
Program officer: María Lourdes Majdalani
The understanding of the physics concept revealed by event-related potentials
Event-related potential is used to study the brain responses to the physical motions consistent with or violating the existing physics concept. Students holding the correct or wrong physics concept performed an oddball task with a pair of stimuli. For half of the blocks, the motion consistent with the physical law was the oddball stimulus and the motion inconsistent with the physical law was the standard stimulus and vice versa. The students holding the correct concept showed the larger parietal P3 to the incorrect target stimulus. By contrast, the students holding the wrong concept showed the larger parietal P3 to the correct target stimulus. The opposite P3 deviance suggests that individual’s concept can affect the representation of the incoming stimulus, and individual develops the strongest mental model of the current stimulus when encountering information is consistent with the existing concept. In addition, this opposite P3 deviance might be a helpful ERP indictor of conceptual understanding.