Visual event-related potentials as markers of hyperarousal in Gulf War
illness: Evidence against a stress-related etiology
Gail D. Tillmana, Clifford S. Calleya, Timothy A. Greena, Virginia I. Buhla, Melanie M. Biggsb,
Jeffrey S. Spencec, Richard W. Briggsd, Robert W. Haleyc, Michael A. Krauta,f, John Hart Jr.a,e,n
aCenter for BrainHealth, The University of Texas at Dallas, USA
bVA North Texas Health Care System, Dallas, TX, USA
cDepartments of Internal Medicine, University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX, USA
dDepartments of Radiology, University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX, USA
eDepartments of Neurology, University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX, USA
fDepartment of Radiology, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA
a r t i c l e i n f o
Received 12 October 2011
Received in revised form
14 August 2012
Accepted 16 August 2012
a b s t r a c t
An exaggerated response to emotional stimuli is among the many symptoms widely reported by
veterans of the 1991 Persian Gulf War. These symptomologies have been attributed to damage and
dysfunction associated with deployment-related exposures. We collected event-related potential data
from 22 veterans meeting Haley criteria for Gulf War (GW) Syndromes 1–3 and from 8 matched GW
veteran controls, who were deployed but not symptomatic, while they performed a visual three-
condition oddball task where images authenticated to be associated with the 1991 Persian Gulf War
were the distractor stimuli. Hyperarousal reported by ill veterans was significantly greater than that by
control veterans, but this was not paralleled by higher amplitude P3a in their ERP responses to
GW-related distractor stimuli. Whereas previous studies of PTSD patients have shown higher amplitude
P3b responses to target stimuli that are placed amid trauma-related nontarget stimuli, ill veterans in
this study showed P3b amplitudes to target stimuli – placed amid GW-related nontarget stimuli – that
were significantly lower than those of the control group. Hyperarousal scores reliably predicted P3b,
but not P3a, amplitudes. Although many factors may contribute to P3b amplitude differences – most
notably depression and poor sleep quality, symptoms that are prevalent in the GW syndrome groups –
our findings in context of previous studies on this population are consistent with the contention that
dysfunction in cholinergic and dopaminergic neurotransmitter systems, and in white matter and basal
ganglia may be contributing to impairments in GW veterans.
& 2012 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
Veterans who were deployed during the 1991 Persian Gulf War
have reported clusters of symptoms that have been attributed to
deployment-related exposures (Research Advisory Committee on
Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses, 2008). There have been several studies
(e.g., Haley et al., 1997a; Fukuda et al., 1998; Doebbeling et al., 2000;
Kang et al., 2002; Iannacchione et al., 2011) that have identified
through factor analysis most commonly three main clusters of
symptoms. One cluster is associated with impaired cognition:
distractibility, memory problems, confused thought, and fatigue.
A second cluster describes more debilitating neurocognitive problems
– reasoning problems, confusion, disorientation, word-finding diffi-
culty, emotional lability – and balance problems, such as vertigo and
frequent stumbling. The third cluster of symptoms is associated more
with somatic complaints, such as joint and muscle pain, weakness
and fatigue, and numb or tingling extremities.
Hyperarousal is a symptom that has been widely reported by
Gulf War veterans (Thompson et al., 2004). Hyperarousal is also
observed among persons with posttraumatic stress disorder,
(Morina et al., 2010), traumatic brain injury (Rapoport et al.,
2002), anxiety disorders (Ruscio and Borkovec, 2004; Sachs et al.,
2004; Erwin et al., 2006; Pillay et al., 2006), and schizophrenia
(Nakamura et al., 2003). Hyperarousal among persons with condi-
tions associated with hyperarousal has been assessed using event-
related potentials (ERPs) derived from electroencephalographic
(EEG) data (Bruder et al., 2002; Dodin and Nandrino, 2003; Karl
et al., 2006; Rossignol et al., 2008). Using ERPs, a three-condition
oddball paradigm is especially appropriate for studying exaggerated
arousal to trauma-related but task-irrelevant stimuli. In a three-
condition oddball task, the ERP elicited by response to the target
stimuli (?20% of the trials) shows a positive deflection occurring
around 300 ms and has been called the target P3 or the P3b. The
standard nontarget stimuli are presented ?60% of the time and
Contents lists available at SciVerse ScienceDirect
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/psychresns
Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging
0925-4927/$-see front matter & 2012 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
nCorrespondence to: Center for BrainHealth, 2200 W. Mockingbird Ln., Dallas,
TX, USA. Tel.: þ214 905 3007; fax: þ214 905 3026.
E-mail address: email@example.com (J. Hart Jr.).
Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging 211 (2013) 257–267
require a standard response or no response. The nontarget distractor
is a novel stimulus that is presented the remaining 20% of the time.
The subject is to give the same response to these novel stimuli as to
the standard nontarget stimuli. The ERP response to the nontarget
distractor is a positive deflection with a peak latency that is earlier
than that of the P3b and has been termed the novelty P3 or P3a. The
P3a is purported to index an involuntary capture of attention
(Friedman et al., 2001) and can be used as an index of hyperarousal.
1.1. Target P3b
A meta-analysis of ERP studies of PTSD (Karl et al., 2006) showed
that relative to controls, persons with PTSD exhibited increased target
P3b amplitude to neutral stimuli when those stimuli were inter-
spersed among trauma-related stimuli, but showed decreased target
P3b amplitude to targets when both the target and the nontarget
stimuli were neutral. Kolassa et al. (2005, 2006) has shown that both
schematic and photographic images of spiders elicit higher P3b
amplitudes in spider-phobics. Lower P3b amblitudes have been
observed in patients with traumatic brain injury (Doi et al., 2007)
and in patients with schizophrenia (Kogoj et al., 2005). The P3b to
target stimuli has also been shown to be sensitive to agents that
affect the systems that most likely suffered insult from known toxic
exposures during Desert Storm: the cholinergic system, the basal
ganglia and dopaminergic system, and white matter.
The cholinergic system is affected by many of the agents to
which veterans deployed to the Persian Gulf were exposed and
has been linked to many of the symptoms reported by them.
Veterans classified as Haley syndrome groups 2 and 3 (Haley
et al., 1999) tended to show exaggerated reactions to the anti-
nerve-gas agent pyridostigmine bromide, a reversible cholines-
terase inhibitor. Veterans who showed many of the neurological
symptoms associated with GW illness were more likely to have an
R allele of the PON1 gene, the genotype with slow hydrolysis of
the cholinesterase inhibitors soman, sarin, and diazinon, and were
more likely to have suffered a severe reaction to the pyridostig-
mine bromide (Haley et al., 1999). In addition, magnetic reso-
nance spectroscopy (MRS; Haley et al., 2000b) and single photon
emission computed tomography (SPECT; Haley et al., 2009;
Liu et al., 2011) studies have indicated dysfunctional cholinergic
systems in ill Gulf War veterans. The insect repellent N, N-diethyl-
m-toluamide (DEET), the insecticide permethrin, and other
cholinesterase-inhibiting organophosphates were widely used to
manage the endemic insect problem in the Gulf War theatre
(Institute of Medicine, 1995). Studies have shown that, when
combined with stress, exposing adult rats to pyridostigmine bro-
mide, DEET, and permethrin can result in disruption of their blood–
brain barrier, neuronal death, decreased acetylcholinesterase activ-
ity, and decreased acetylcholine receptor binding (Abou-Donia et al.,
1996; Abdel-Rahman et al., 2004). Human subjects have exhibited
increased P3b amplitudes (M¨ unte et al., 1988) after the administra-
tion of the ACh receptor agonist WEB1881 FU (Nebracetam),
whereas administration of the cholinergic antagonist scopolamine
resulted in decreased P3b amplitudes and impaired performance on
memory tasks (Hammond et al., 1987; Meador et al., 1989).
ACh is also known to play a key role in striatal function
(Calabresi et al., 2000; Bonsi et al., 2011) and in modulating
dopaminergic activity (Exley and Cragg, 2008), which in turn
modulates ACh activity (Deboer et al., 1996; Aosaki et al., 2010).
Thus, dysfunction in either system can result in dysfunction in the
other. Dysfunction in basal ganglia and the dopaminergic system
among Gulf War veterans has been reported (Haley et al., 2000a;
Meyerhoff et al., 2001). Magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS)
studies measuring N-acetylaspartate-to-creatine (NAA/Cr) ratio
showed evidence of reduced neuronal integrity in basal ganglia in
Haley GW Syndromes 1 and 2, and in brainstem in Haley
Syndromes 2 and 3. The basal ganglia choline-to-creatine (Cho/Cr)
ratio was significantly lower in the Syndrome 1 group (Haley et al.,
2000b), and lower NAA/Cr ratio in left basal ganglia was closely
associated with higher dopaminergic activity (Haley et al., 2000a).
The basal ganglia have also been shown to contribute to the
P3b. Rektor et al. (2005) recorded from electrodes implanted in
basal ganglia, primary motor cortex, and lateral and medial
supplementary motor cortices during subjects’ performance of
auditory and visual oddball tasks. Target P3 amplitude was
significantly higher in basal ganglia than in cortical areas, indicat-
ing contribution by this noncortical area to the generation of the
P3b. Systems both with low DA activity, as in Parkinson patients
(Galvan and Wichmann, 2008), and with high activity, as in
schizophrenia (Howes and Kapur, 2009), show decreased P3b
amplitudes (Li et al., 2003; Ergen et al., 2008), thus implicating
dopamine in P3b amplitude variance.
1.2. Novelty P3a
Higher novelty P3a amplitudes have been observed in responses
to phobia-related images among persons with spider- (Kolassa et al.,
2005) and dental-phobias (Schienle et al., 2011), and to emotional
faces in female patients diagnosed with mixed anxiety-depression
(Rossignol et al., 2008). Similarly, the Karl et al. (2006) meta-analysis
of ERP studies of PTSD concluded that P3a amplitudes to trauma-
related distractor pictures were significantly higher in PTSD trauma-
exposed groups than in trauma-exposed groups without PTSD.
Lower P3a amplitudes to novel stimuli have been observed among
schizophrenia patients and their siblings (Turetsky et al., 2000), and
in patients with traumatic brain injury (Roche et al., 2004). The P3a
response to novel stimuli is generated by several contributing brain
areas, including the hippocampus (Knight, 1996) and mediofrontal
(Elting et al., 2008), inferior frontal (Baudena et al., 1995), dorsal
prefrontal (Knight, 1984), and anterior cingulate cortex (Dien et al.,
2003). These areas receive, or are modulated by, dopaminergic input
(Allman et al., 2001; Monchi et al., 2004; Cilia et al., 2011; Fusar-Poli
et al., 2011) and are implicated in emotional processing and
regulation (Ochsner et al., 2004; Badgaiyan et al., 2009; Schienle
et al., 2009; Etkin et al., 2011). While dopamine is purported to be a
significant neurotransmitter contributor to the generation of the P3a
component (Polich, 2007), little has been reported on the role of the
cholinergic system in its generation.
To assess the nature of the hyperarousal symptoms of GWI
patients, we analyzed ERP data of 30 Gulf War veterans during
their performance on a visual three-condition oddball task where
pictures of animals were the targets, scenes from the 1991 Persian
Gulf War and weapons were the threatening distractors, and
nonthreatening pictures of objects, people, and nature were the
standard stimuli. We hypothesized that we would find incon-
sistent effects on P3a amplitudes, given the countervailing factors
of a higher P3a being associated with hyperarousal, but a lower
amplitude being associated with a diminished contribution to this
component by dopaminergic neural systems. We also hypothe-
sized that we would observe reduced P3b amplitudes in ill GW
veterans given the documented contributions of both cholinergic
and dopaminergic systems to the generation of this potential.
The participants were 30 GW veterans who had served in the same construction
battalion in the United States Naval Reserve deployed during the 1991 Persian Gulf
War. Twenty-two of these met the Haley et al. (1997a), Iannacchione et al. (2011)
criteria for one of the syndromes of Gulf War illness: Seven met criteria for Gulf War
Syndrome 1, nine were identified as Syndrome 2, and six were identified as
G.D. Tillman et al. / Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging 211 (2013) 257–267
Syndrome 3. Eight age-sex-education-matched veterans without symptoms served as
controls. All subjects were male. The ill group ranged in age from 46 to 73 years
(M¼57.2), and the control group, from 51 to 76 years (M¼61.6). All participants had
participated in prior studies of Gulf War illness (Haley et al., 1997a, 1997b, 2000a,
2000b). Subjects were hospitalized and monitored at The University of Texas
Southwestern Medical Center’s Clinical and Translational Research Center in 2008
and 2009 while they participated in a week-long multi-modal neuropsychological,
neuroimaging, and biomarker study. The design of the study as it pertains to the data
discussed here is shown in Fig. 1. All subjects gave written informed consent
according to a protocol approved by the university’s institutional review board.
2.2. Hyperarousal ratings
We evaluated hyperarousal using a subset of items from the Mississippi Scale
for Combat-Related PTSD (Keane et al., 1988), which was included as part of each
veteran’s psychological evaluation during his week-long participation in this
study. Seven items that were most representative of hyperarousal were chosen
by five doctoral-level clinicians. Internal consistency reliability for the seven-item
subset was high (Cronbach’s a¼88). Only 5 of the 22 ill veterans (two from the
Syndrome 1 group, two from Syndrome 2, and one from Syndrome 3), and none of
the controls, were diagnosed with PTSD by psychiatrist’s or psychologist’s clinical
interview using the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS; Blake et al., 1995)
and the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV (SCID; First et al., 1996).
The visual stimuli consisted of 160 color photographs, 138 of which were
taken from the International Affective Picture Set (IAPS). Sixteen images authen-
ticated to be associated with the 1991 Persian Gulf War and six images of weapons
were added to the ten weapon pictures taken from the IAPS, and these 32 images
comprised the novel threatening distractor stimuli. Another 32 pictures of animals
comprised the target stimuli. The remaining 96 images, which consisted of nature
scenes, people, food, and objects, served as the nonthreatening nontarget stimuli.
The ratio of target stimuli to threatening distractor stimuli to nontarget non-
threatening stimuli was 20:20:60, respectively.
The stimuli were presented on a color computer video monitor positioned
approximately 1 m in front of the subject. The picture stimuli subtended
approximately 181 of visual angle. As shown in Fig. 2, each picture stimulus was
presented for 1 sec followed by a 1-sec fixation point, producing a 2-sec
interstimulus interval. Each subject sat in a comfortable chair in a sound-proof
booth and was told to keep his eyes focused on the center of the screen.
After the participants were fitted with the electrode cap and, prior to the
beginning of the task, they were shown and read the written instructions and
were allowed to have their questions answered. The participants were instructed
to press the response button under their right index finger for the picture stimuli
that were of animals and to press the response button under their right middle
finger for everything else. The response buttons interfaced with Stim2(Compu-
medics Neuroscan, Charlotte, NC, USA) software, which recorded the accuracy of
the responses and their reaction times. A time-locked mark of each stimulus onset
and response was recorded on the continuous EEG.
The subject was not informed that any of the stimuli would represent
threatening circumstances. At the beginning of each task, the first image repeated
the instructions they had learned prior to the beginning of the task.
Ongoing EEG activity was recorded via a 64-electrode array mounted within
an elastic cap that the participant wore during the task. Electrodes placed at the
superior and inferior orbital margins monitored blinks and vertical eye move-
ments. The reference electrode was located near the vertex and the APZ electrode
served as the ground electrode. Impedance for each electrode was kept below
10 kO as measured before the beginning of the task.
The EEG was recorded using a Neuroscan Synamps2 (Compumedics Neuroscan,
Charlotte, NC, USA) amplifier at a 1000-Hz sampling rate. The continuous EEG data
were high-pass filtered at 0.15 Hz and re-referenced to the global mean amplitude.
Blink artifacts were filtered from the continuous EEG file by using a spatial filter
process in the Scan 4.4 Edit (Compumedics Neuroscan, Charlotte, NC, USA) software.
Data from 200 ms before the onset to 1200 ms after the onset of each stimulus were
included in each epoch. From each subject’s task data, three conditions – target
animals, nontarget threat-related distractors, and nontarget nonthreatening objects –
were averaged. Each average consisted of epochs that had been baseline-corrected
based on the 200-ms prestimulus data and low-pass filtered at 20 Hz.
2.6. Data analysis
Each subject’s averages were used to generate target, threatening distractor, and
nonthreatening nontarget group ERP averages for Syndromes 1–3 and controls.
Visual inspection of the ERPs from the responses to nonthreatening nontarget,
threatening distractor, and target stimuli revealed a consistent anterior negative
deflection around 300 ms, identified as the N300. A posterior positive deflection in
the threatening distractor averages around 300 ms was identified as the P3a, and a
posterior positive deflection occurring around 550 ms in the target averages was
identified as the P3b component.
The N300, shown in Fig. 3, is a monopolar component demonstrated to be
sensitive to the emotional or arousal level of visual stimuli (Rossignol et al., 2005).
Others have interpreted it to be associated with the degree of effort involved in
integrating semantic information into a higher level of conceptual representation
(McPherson and Holcomb, 1999). To ascertain the effect of the emotional nature of
the threatening distractor, target, and nonthreatening nontarget stimuli on this
component, the negative most point between 250 and 350 ms at anterior sites was
recorded from each individual average. The most negative deflection was represented
in electrode site FZ in the group averages and in most individual averages; thus, the
most negative amplitude and its corresponding latency at FZ were chosen from each
individual’s ERP to be the best representative of the N300 component.
Due to the N300, a traditional anterior P3a could not be assessed. Thus the
positive-most point occurring between 275 and 370 ms at posterior sites were
recorded from each participant’s threatening detractor ERP average. The posterior
representation of the P3a has been shown to be part of the response to novelty
that is less sensitive to habituation (see Friedman et al., 2001, for a review). The
occipitoparietal midline electrode POZ showed the highest P3a peak amplitude in
the group averages as well as in most individuals’ averages (see Fig. 4). Thus, peak
amplitude and its corresponding latency at POZ were chosen from each indivi-
dual’s ERP to be the best representative of the P3a component.
A positive deflection occurring between 350 and 650 ms in the group ERP
averages to target stimuli was identified as the target P3b. This component amplitude
was maximal at electrode CPZ in the group averages (shown in Fig. 5) and in most
individual averages of the ERP response to target stimuli. Thus, the most positive
point between 350 and 650 ms at electrode CPZ in each participant’s average ERP was
considered the best representative of the P3b response to target stimuli.
A hyperarousal score was recorded for each subject based on responses from a
7-item subset of items on from the Mississippi Scale for Combat-Related PTSD
(Keane et al., 1988), which was included in the evaluation of each veteran who
participated in the week-long study.
Fig. 1. Gulf War veterans were classified as either controls, Syndrome 1,
Syndrome 2, or Syndrome 3 based on Haley et al. (1997a, 2000a) criteria, and
underwent a week-long multi-modal neuropsychological, neuroimaging, and
biomarker study, which included electroencephalography and measurement of
hyperarousal using the Mississippi Scale for Combat-Related PTSD (Keane et al.,
G.D. Tillman et al. / Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging 211 (2013) 257–267
A one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to assess differences in
hyperarousal among the four groups (control, Syndrome1, Syndrome2, Syndrome3;
Haley et al., 1997a). Two 4?3 ANOVAs, where group was the between-subjects
factor and condition (target, nontarget nonthreatening, nontarget threatening
distractor) was the within-subjects factor, was computed to assess affects on
N300 amplitude and latency. Two one-way ANOVAs where group was the
Fig. 2. Schematic diagram of the three-condition oddball paradigm used. After instructions, stimuli were presented for 1 sec followed by a 1-sec fixation. Participants
responded with a button push that was different for target stimuli (animals) than for nonthreatening nontarget stimuli and threatening nontarget distractor stimuli.
Fig. 3. A prevalent anterior N300 was present for all conditions, preventing the measure of an anterior P3a. There were no significant effects of group or condition on the
N300 amplitude or latency.
G.D. Tillman et al. / Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging 211 (2013) 257–267
between-subjects factor were computed on P3a amplitude to distractor stimuli and
on P3a latency. Two similar ANOVAs were computed using P3b amplitude to target
stimuli and P3b latency as dependent variables. Post hoc analyses were used to
clarify the omnibus effects. Data regarding alcohol abuse and dependence, from the
SCID, and data regarding medication use collected as part of the week-long multi-
modal study were used as covariates in post hoc analyses. To further our under-
standing of the relationship between hyperarousal scores and the amplitudes of P3a
and P3b, simple regression analyses were computed.
3.1. Hyperarousal scores
An ANOVA where the hyperarousal sub-score from the Missis-
sippi Scale for Combat-Related PTSD (Keane et al., 1988) was the
dependent variable and GWI syndrome group (control, Syndrome1,
Syndrome2, Syndrome3; Haley et al., 1997a) was the between-
subjects factor indicated a significant effect of Gulf War syndrome
group on hyperarousal scores, omnibus test, F(3, 26)¼11.802,
Po0.0001, Z2¼0.5766. Post hoc comparison showed that the
control group’s hyperarousal scores were significantly lower than
each of the ill veteran groups, Po0.0005. When the scores from the
five veterans diagnosed with PTSD were removed from the analysis,
both the omnibus effect (P¼0.0001) and the post hoc comparison
(Po0.0001) remained significant.
A one-way ANOVA using Gulf War syndrome group (control,
Syndrome1, Syndrome2, Syndrome3; Haley et al., 1997a) as the
between-subjects factor showed no effect of syndrome group on
P3a amplitude, F(3, 26)¼339, P¼0.7973. See Fig. 6. Removing
data from the five veterans who had been diagnosed with PTSD
from the analysis did not change the lack of effect, F(3, 21)¼413,
The later P3b to target stimuli was maximal at central parietal
site CPZ. The P3b peak amplitude was defined as the most positive
Fig. 4. P3a response to threatening distractor stimuli.
Fig. 5. P3b response to target stimuli.
Fig. 6. P3a component to distractor threatening stimuli at midline occipitoparietal
electrode site POZ for all four Gulf War illness syndrome groups.
G.D. Tillman et al. / Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging 211 (2013) 257–267
point between 350 and 650 ms in each participant’s ERP average
of responses to the target (animal) stimuli at central parietal
midline electrode CPZ. A one-way analysis of variance with Gulf
War syndrome group as the between-subjects factor showed a
significant effect of syndrome group on P3b amplitude, F(3, 26)¼
5.282, P¼0.0056, Z2¼0.3787. Post hoc comparison showed that
this was due to the P3b amplitude of the control group being
significantly higher than that of the ill groups, P¼0004. The P3b
component from each group is shown in Fig. 7. When data from
the five veterans who had been diagnosed with PTSD were
removed from the analysis the effect of group was maintained
(F(3, 21)¼5.014, P¼0.0089, Z2¼0.4174), as was the significance
of the post hoc test comparing the P3b of the control group to that
of the ill groups (P¼0.001).
Although fewer control subjects than Syndrome group subjects
endorsed alcohol abuse or dependence (measured with the SCID),
alcohol abuse or dependence showed an expected distribution
among all four groups, w2¼3.702, P¼0.3. Adding alcohol abuse or
dependence as a covariable in the analysis reduced the effect size
of group on the P3b amplitude but did not nullify its significance,
F(3,22)¼3.683, MSe¼5.474, P¼0.0274, Z2¼0.334.
Information regarding medication was collected from each of
the 30 veterans. Number of medications for each participant was
also recorded. These data included use of H2 receptor blockers,
proton pump inhibitor, statins, other cholesterol-reducing medi-
cation, opiates, anti-convulsant pain medication, SSRIs, benzodia-
zepine, aspirin, NSAIDs, ACE inhibitors, beta blockers, diuretics,
oral hypoglycemic medication, antihistamine, thyroid replace-
ment, alpha blockers, and beta agonists (See Table 1). For SSRI
use, Chi-square analysis showed that the distribution across
groups was not even (w2¼7.829, P¼0.0497, Cramer’s V¼0.511)
due to almost half of the veterans in the Syndrome 2 group taking
SSRIs. Only one other veteran, in the Syndrome 1 group, was
taking an SSRI medication. Using SSRI use as a covariate did not
change the significance of or the effect size of the effect of group
on P3a or P3b amplitudes. An ANOVA using number of medica-
tions as the dependent variable showed a trend toward the
number of medications taken by veterans in the Syndrome
2 group being significantly higher than that of the other three
groups, F(3, 26)¼2.466, MSe¼13.194, P¼0.0846, Z2¼0.22. How-
ever, when number of medications was added as a covariate, the
effect of group on P3b amplitude remained significant, F(3,
22)¼4.480, MSe¼4.183, P¼0.0134, Z2¼0.323.
Hyperarousal scores did not reliably predict the amplitudes of
the P3a response to threatening stimuli (b¼ ?0.157, P¼0.409),
whereas they did reliably predict and show a considerable
amount of shared variance with the amplitude of the P3b
response to target stimuli, b¼ ?0.506, P¼0.004, R2¼0.256. This
regression maintained its reliability when the data from the five
veterans who had been diagnosed with PTSD were removed from
the analysis, b¼ ?0.598, P¼0.002, R2¼0.358. Higher hyperarou-
sal scores predicted more attenuated P3b amplitudes. A regres-
sion analysis using only the hyperarousal scores and P3b
amplitudes from the five veterans diagnosed with PTSD revealed
Fig. 7. P3b component to target stimuli at midline centroparietal electrode site
CPZ for all four Gulf War illness syndrome groups.
Demographic and medication data.
Control Syndrome 1Syndrome 2Syndrome 3
Number of medications (M(SD))
H2 receptor blocker
Proton pump inhibitor
Other cholesterol-reducing medication
Anti-convulsant pain medication
Oral hypoglycemic medication
Alcohol abuse or dependence
nIndicates a significant difference among the groups.
G.D. Tillman et al. / Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging 211 (2013) 257–267
a positive slope, where higher hyperarousal scores were asso-
ciated with higher P3b amplitudes, b¼0.492, P¼0.40.
The latencies of neither P3a nor P3b differed significantly by
Gulf War syndrome group, P40.27.
The image-specific N300 component has been shown to reflect
the degree of effort involved in integrating semantic information
into a higher level of conceptual representation (McPherson and
Holcomb, 1999). As each of the stimuli the participant encoun-
tered was a new stimulus, this component showed neither a main
effect of condition or group nor an interaction, P40.38.
3.3. Behavioral data
Percent correct and reaction times were used as dependent
variables in two separate ANOVAs where GWI syndrome group
was the between-subjects factor and condition was the within-
subjects factor. There was an effect of condition on reaction times,
F(2, 52)¼4.809, P ¼ 0.0121, Z2¼0.0161. Mean reaction time
to threatening stimuli was significantly longer than reaction time
to nontarget nonthreatening stimuli, P¼0.0038. Reaction time
to neither threatening distractor stimuli nor nontarget stimuli
differed significantly from reaction time to target stimuli. There
were no effects of GWI syndrome group and no interaction on
reaction time, P40.30. Percent correct showed no effects of
condition or of GWI group, and no interaction, P40.29.
This study found that ill Gulf War veterans, whose hyper-
arousal scores were significantly higher than those of the matched
controls, exhibit ERP profiles more indicative of cholinergic, basal
ganglia, and dopaminergic dysfunction than of anxiety disorders
such as PTSD. That is, the P3a amplitudes to Persian Gulf War
photographs were not higher in the groups reporting high hyperar-
ousal, nor were their P3b amplitudes to target stimuli similar to or
higher than those of the controls, as would be expected if these
participants were similar to patients with PTSD who have been
studied using event-related potentials (Karl et al., 2006). Rather, the
subjects reporting high hyperarousal exhibited similar P3a ampli-
tudes to threatening nontarget stimuli but reduced P3b amplitudes
to target stimuli, profiles that are likely indicative of the cholinergic
dysfunction and/or basal ganglia/dopaminergic dysfunction that
have previously been reported as having resulted from neurotoxic
exposures during their deployment to the Persian Gulf (Haley et al.,
1999, 2000a, 2000b; Liu et al., 2011). The results of this study not
only show toxin-related physiological differences that correlate with
reported symptoms, but they provide an ERP profile that can aid in
distinguishing patients with Gulf War illness, and can provide an
objective marker for future treatment trials.
The contributions of ACh, DA, and basal ganglia to the genera-
tion and variance of the P3b response have been previously
established. Administration of a cholinergic receptor agonist to
human subjects has resulted in increased P3b amplitudes (M¨ unte
et al., 1988), whereas decreased P3b amplitudes were observed in
subjects who received a cholinergic antagonist (Hammond et al.,
1987; Meador et al., 1989). Parikh et al. (2007) measured ACh
release during rats’ performance in attention-demanding tasks
and found that cholinergic neurotransmission to cortex played
important roles in the detection of relevant cues and thereby in
the performance of attention-demanding tasks. In addition,
administration of the cholinesterase inhibitor donepezil to human
subjects was shown to enhance voluntary attention more than
involuntary attention (Rokem et al., 2010) in visual spatial cuing
tasks. This is consistent with the cholinergic system playing a
greater role in the intentional allocation of attentional resources
(P3b) than in the involuntary capture of attention (P3a). Adamec
et al. (2008) found evidence of the read-through variant of
acetylcholinesterase (AChE-R), which had been found to be over-
expressed in mice that had been stressed with immobilization
(Nijholt et al., 2004), playing a role in the hyperarousal resulting
from predator stress in mice. Mice that were treated with EN101,
which reduced the transcription of AChE-R, did not show the
increased startle amplitude following their unprotected and
inescapable exposure to a cat, whereas mice treated with a
similar vehicle that had no effect on AChE-R showed the expected
long-lasting increase in startle amplitude (Adamec et al., 2008).
After receiving an infusion of the anticholinesterase physostig-
mine, human subjects showed enhanced activity in response to
emotional faces in frontal areas in attended and unattended
conditions (Bentley et al., 2003). Thus it is plausible that acetyl-
choline dysfunction evident in the GWI syndromes may be
contributing to their lower P3b responses, their attentional
difficulties, and their hyperarousal.
ACh is also involved in basal ganglia function (Calabresi
et al., 2000; Bonsi et al., 2011) and in modulating dopaminergic
activity (Exley and Cragg, 2008). P3b amplitude variation has been
attributed to variation in DA activity in persons with Parkinson’s
disease (Li et al., 2003) and attention-deficit/hyperactive disorder
(Lo ´pez et al., 2004). Recordings obtained from electrodes implanted in
basal ganglia (Rektor et al., 2005) have revealed a basal ganglia
contribution to the generation of the P3b. Dopamine and basal
ganglia are also implicated in hyperarousal. De la Mora et al. (2010)
suggested that activation of dopamine receptor sites in amygdala are
responsible for releasing the amygdala from the inhibitory input from
the medial prefrontal cortex (PFC), thus enabling preparation for
dealing with real or potential threat. Amygdala D1 receptors princi-
pally facilitate retrieval of affective associations of a stimulus, whereas
D2 receptors mediate brainstem-based reflex responses and the
establishment of adaptive coping responses to threatening stimuli.
The subthalamic nucleus of the basal ganglia plays a role in emotional
regulation (Volkmann et al., 2010; Greenhouse et al., 2011). The
volume of the inferior frontal cortex, specifically the ventromedial
PFC, covaries with emotional regulation (Welborn et al., 2009); the
inferior frontal cortex is the initiator of the fronto-striatal inhibitory
loop described by Aron et al. (2007), which includes the subthalamic
nucleus. Although we found no effect of GW syndrome group on the
response to emotional stimuli (P3a), a dysfunction in this inhibitory
circuit could be contributing both to the hyperarousal and to the
attentional and concentration problems reported by many GW
veterans (Haley et al., 1997a; Ford et al., 2001). The ill veterans of
this study having significantly reduced amplitude of the P3b, which is
purported to indicate the volitional allocation of attentional resources,
is consistent with their reports of attention and concentration diffi-
culties (Haley et al., 1997a). Thus, basal ganglia damage or dysfunc-
tion of the dopamine system – secondary to basal ganglia damage,
cholinergic system dysregulation, or both – very likely contributed to
the significantly attenuated P3b amplitudes and perhaps the hyper-
arousal observed among the ill veterans in this study.
Evidence has accrued to suggest that the dopaminergic system
may play a principal role also in the generation of the P3a
response to novel or distractor stimuli. Reduced P3a amplitudes
have been observed among groups diagnosed with conditions
marked by atypical dopaminergic systems (Sagvolden et al., 2005;
Toda and Abi-Dargham, 2007; Galvan and Wichmann, 2008;
Connor et al., 2009), such as schizophrenia (Merrin and Floyd,
1994), restless leg syndrome or Parkinson’s disease (Poceta et al.,
2006), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (Kemner et al.,
1996), and the met/met allelic variant of the catechol-O-methyl-
transferase (COMT) gene (Marco-Pallare ´s et al., 2010). The roles of
G.D. Tillman et al. / Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging 211 (2013) 257–267
the cholinergic system, however, seem to be more peripheral
(Aloisi et al., 1997; Giovannini et al., 2001). A study using a
Go-NoGo spatial cuing task found that nicotine had no effect on
early sensory components but did enhance a frontally distributed
positive deflection 300–400 ms post-stimulus in response to
invalid cues (Meinke et al., 2006). The authors’ interpretation of
these findings, similar to that of the Rokem et al. (2010) study,
was that the cholinergic system affects voluntary attention more
than it affects involuntary attention.
However, the 300–400 ms response component examined in
Meinke et al. (2006) study is consistent with the NoGo P3 in ERP
literature examining response inhibition (e.g., Eimer, 1993; Weisbrod
et al., 2000; Maguire et al., 2009). We have previously shown that the
anterior P3 to NoGo stimuli is attenuated in ill Gulf War veterans
(Tillman et al., 2010). The present study, however, found no effect of
Gulf War illness syndrome group on P3a measures. Thus, while the
interpretation of the findings from Rokem et al. (2010) and Meinke
et al. (2006) studies regarding voluntary and involuntary attention
would also apply to our findings, we must acknowledge the caveats
that must be applied to our particular P3a measure.
Polich (2007) evaluated the components that have been identified
as P3a, novelty P3, and NoGo P3 and concluded that the three
components are most likely variations of the same component. In the
present study’s visual paradigm, the more widely used frontal P3a
could not be measured due to a strong and pervasive frontal N300.
The P3a component for this study was measured from the midline
occipitoparietal electrode POZ, the posterior aspect of the P3a
component. ERP studies using auditory stimuli have indicated that
the anterior and posterior aspects of the P3a are modulated to greater
or lesser degrees by sleep quality, stimulus repetition and familiarity,
attention, stimulus physical characteristic, and task relevance, which
is attributed to the observations that the this component has multiple
generators (Friedman et al., 2001; Bledowski et al., 2004; Volpe et al.,
2007). Salmi et al. (2005) found that in healthy subjects the
amplitude of the auditory P3a parietal aspect showed correlations
with sleep efficiency, sleep onset latency, and percentage of sleep that
were stronger than correlations between those sleep measures and
anterior P3a amplitudes. Sleep disturbances are widely reported
among GW veterans, and are included among the symptoms that
may represent all GWI syndromes (Haley et al., 2001); thus, poor
sleep may have contributed to the variance in the P3a amplitude of
the ill veterans at POZ to a greater degree than it would have had we
been able to assess the P3a at anterior sites.
In auditory tasks, the amplitude of the posterior aspect of the
P3a, when compared to the anterior aspect, is less attenuated by
the repetition of familiar sounds but is increased more in
response to the repetition of unfamiliar stimuli (Cycowicz and
Friedman, 1998). Additionally, Friedman et al. (1998) found that
the greater habituation-driven attenuation of the anterior aspect
with respect to the posterior aspect was present only when
attention was engaged. In a subsequent study, Gaeta et al.
(2003) determined that the anterior aspect of the P3a component
was more sensitive to the contextual salience of the physical
characteristics of auditory stimuli whereas the posterior aspect
was more sensitive to task category, clarifying the importance of
task-relevance to the variance in the posterior aspect. Thus, the
P3a data from this study allow us to conclude only that both the
symptomatic and the nonsymptomatic GW veterans were similarly
engaged in the task-relevance assessments of the threatening
stimuli, or that we may not have adequately measured hyperar-
ousal using these visual stimuli, as such reported responses may be
more often triggered by other than GW-related images, or by
smells, sounds, or social cues. We were unable to assess the frontal
aspect of the P3a, which could have furthered our understanding of
observations of fronto-striatal deficits in this cohort (Tillman et al.,
White matter integrity has also been implicated in symptom
complaints of Gulf War veterans and is a source of P3b variability.
White matter volume reduction has been shown to be significantly
correlated with the amount of sarin exposure that Gulf War veterans
received (Heaton et al., 2007). In their study using data from both
MRI to EEGs recorded during a visual three-condition oddball task,
Cardenas et al. (2005) found that, relative to P3a, P3b variance was
related more to white matter volume than to gray matter factors,
implying that the connections between generators influence the
latency variability of the P3b more the generators themselves. The
degree of white matter damage in TBI sufferers has been found to be
closely associated with hyperarousal (Rapoport et al., 2002). While
white matter damage has been suggested in patients with GWI
(Heaton et al., 2007) and can affect the P3b response, it typically
affects P3b latency (Dockree and Robertson, 2011), which is not
significantly different in the syndrome groups in this study. Thus,
while we cannot discount that white matter pathology secondarily
could play a role in the reduced P3b responses reported here, it
appears less likely than the dopamine-acetylcholine etiologies.
A reduced P3b has been observed in many ERP studies. Whereas
P3b amplitude has been observed to increase as more processing
resources are dedicated to a task when memory load increases, P3b
amplitude was found to decrease when processing resources were
shared by a secondary task (Kramer and Strayer, 1988; Watter et al.,
2001). For example, Watter et al. found that the P3b amplitude of
subjects when they were required to remember the stimulus that
occurred three trials prior (3-back condition) was significantly lower
than the P3b amplitude during the 1-back condition; yet, the latency
remained consistent across conditions. This may apply to our results
as well. The P3b amplitudes of the ill veterans were significantly
lower, but P3b latencies were not different from those of controls. It
could be argued that, relative to controls, the ill veterans found much
of the stimuli in the task more distracting, and required that the
processing of the primary task (responding differently to pictures of
animals) be reduced by the portion of processing resources that had
to be dedicated to inhibiting the distraction from the non-animal
pictures. In a similar vein, automatic processing of some aspects of
the task could have come more easily to the control group than to the
ill veterans (Kramer and Strayer, 1988). A reduced P3b has also been
observed in studies of schizophrenia (Devrim-¨Uc -ok et al., 2006) and
multiple systems atrophy (Kamitani et al., 2002). However, these
diagnoses were not present in the subject groups of the current
study. A reduced P3b has also been observed among treated
alcoholics and those with a genetic predisposition toward alcoholism
(Porjesz et al., 1998), but our analysis found no effect of use or abuse
of alcohol on the P3b amplitude in these groups.
Other possible contributors to the reduced P3b seen in the ill
veterans include depression and sleep quality. Depression has
been identified as a major symptom in the clusters identified
by Haley et al. (1997b, 2001) and Fukuda et al. (1998). There was
a significant difference between controls and ill veterans in
depression as assessed by SCID (w2¼17.632, P¼0.0005, Cramer’s
V¼0.767) in that only two of the veterans in Syndromes 1–3 were
not identified as depressed and only one of the veterans in the
control group was identified as depressed, a disparity that pre-
cluded using depression diagnosis as a factor in the analyses.
Studies examining the amplitude and latency of P3 components
show conflicting results, which have been attributed to task
paradigm and difficulty and to differing ERP profiles for differing
types of depression (see Bruder et al., 2012). Both P3 components
tend to be attenuated in depressed patients and tend to occur at
longer latencies in melancholic and bipolar depression. In addi-
tion, hyperarousal and poor sleep quality, which impact ERP
amplitudes (Salmi et al., 2005; Trujillo et al., 2009) and are widely
reported among GW veterans (Haley et al., 2001; Thompson et al.,
2004), are closely associated with depression (Riemann and
G.D. Tillman et al. / Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging 211 (2013) 257–267
Voderholzer, 2003). Only the target P3b amplitude in the veterans
meeting criteria for Gulf War illness in the current study was
attenuated and neither component’s latency was significantly
different from that of the controls. Assessing whether depression
contributed to the reduction in target P3b amplitude, toxic
exposure contributed to the depression and P3b amplitude reduc-
tion, or both was beyond the scope of this study. Disentangling the
relationships among hyperarousal, depression, sleep quality, toxic
exposure, and ERP profiles will require further study.
In summary, ill GW veterans reported hyperarousal rates that
were significantly higher than those reported by matched controls.
Yet, only five of the ill veterans had been diagnosed with PTSD using
a structured clinical interview. Hyperarousal was not paralleled by
overly robust responses to Gulf War-related images (P3a), as would
be expected in persons with war-induced PTSD. Rather, hyperarousal
scores were inversely related to the amplitudes of their responses to
target stimuli (P3b). Whereas previous studies of PTSD have indicated
higher P3b amplitudes in individuals when the target stimuli is
accompanied by trauma-related nontarget stimuli, ill veterans in this
study showed P3b amplitudes that were significantly lower than
those of the control group. This pattern is consistent with previous
findings of dysfunction in white matter and basal ganglia, and in
cholinergic and dopaminergic neurotransmitter systems in GW
veterans. Each of these plausible neurobiologic disruptions can be
linked to neurotoxic effects of exposure to specific agents during GW
deployment. Since all but two of the ill veterans and only one of the
controls were identified as depressed, we could not ascertain to what
degree the pervasive comorbidity of depression in Gulf War illness is
making an independent contribution to the P3b amplitude attenua-
tion or to what degree the neurotransmitter systems dysfunctions are
contributing to the reduced P3b, hyperarousal, and/or depression.
This study was supported by IDIQ contract VA549-P-0027,
awarded and administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs
Medical Center, Dallas, TX; U.S. Army Medical Research and
Materiel Command grant number DAMD17–01–1–0741; and Grant
Number UL1RR024982, titled North and Central Texas Clinical and
Translational Science Initiative (Milton Packer, M.D., PI), from the
National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), a component of the
National Institutes of Health (NIH) and NIH Roadmap for Medical
Research. The content does not necessarily reflect the position or
the policy of the Federal government or the sponsoring agencies,
and no official endorsement should be inferred.
Appendix A. Supplementary information
Supplementary data associated with this article can be found
in the online version at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pscychresns.
Abdel-Rahman, A., Dechkovskaia, A.M., Goldstein, L.B., Bullman, S.H., Khan, W.,
El-Masry, E.M., Abou-Donia, M.B., 2004. Neurological deficits induced by
malathion, DEET, and permethrin, alone or in combination in adult rats.
Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health Part A 67 (4), 331–356.
Abou-Donia, M.B., Wilmarth, K.R., Jensen, K.F., Oehme, F.W., Kurt, T.L., 1996.
Neurotoxicity resulting from coexposure to pyridostigmine bromide, DEET,
and permethrin: implications of Gulf War chemical exposures. Journal of
Toxicology and Environmental Health 48 (1), 35–56.
Adamec, R., Head, D., Soreq, H., Blundell, J., 2008. The role of the read through
variant of acetylcholinesterase in anxiogenic effects of predator stress in mice.
Behavioural Brain Research 189, 180–190, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbr.
Allman, J.M., Hakeem, A., Erwin, J.M., Nimchinsky, E., Hof, P., 2001. The anterior
cingulate cortex: the evolution of an interface between emotion and cognition.
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 935, 107–117.
Aloisi, A.M., Casamenti, F., Scali, C., Pepeu, G., Carli, G., 1997. Effects of novelty,
pain and stress on hippocampal extracellular acetylcholine levels in male rats.
Brain Research 748, 219–226.
Aosaki, T., Miura, M., Suzuki, T., Nishimura, K., Masuda, M., 2010. Acetylcholine-
dopamine balance hypothesis in the striatum: an update. Geriatrics and
Gerontology International 10 (1), S148–157.
Aron, A.R., Durston, S., Eagle, D.M., Logan, G.D., Stinear, D.M., Stuphorn, V., 2007.
Converging evidence for a frontal–basal-ganglia network for inhibitory control
of action and cognition. Journal of Neuroscience 27, 11860–11884.
Badgaiyan, R.D., Fischman, A.J., Alpert, N.M., 2009. Dopamine release during
human emotional processing. NeuroImage 47, 2041–2045.
Baudena, P., Halgen, E., Heit, G., Clarke, J.M., 1995. Intracerebral potentials to rare
target and distractor auditory and visual stimuli. III. Frontal cortex. Electro-
encephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology 94, 251–264.
Bentley, P., Vuilleumier, P., Thiel, C.M., Driver, J., Dolan, R.J., 2003. Cholinergic
enhancement modulates neural correlates of selective attention and emo-
tional processing. NeuroImage 20, 58–70, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1053-
Blake, D.D., Weathers, F.W., Nagy, L.M., Kaloupek, D.G., Gusman, F.D., Charney, D.S.,
et al., 1995. The development of a clinician-administered PTSD scale. Journal of
Traumatic Stress 8, 75–90.
Bledowski, C., Prvulovic, D., Hoechstetter, K., Scherg, M., Wibral, M., Goebel, R.,
Linden, D.E.J., 2004. Localizing P300 generators in visual target and distractor
processing: a combined event-related potential and functional magnetic
resonance imaging study. Journal of Neuroscience 24 (42), 9353–9360.
Bonsi, P., Cuomo, D., Martella, G., Madeo, G., Schirinzi, T., Puglisi, F., Ponterio, G.,
Pisani, A., 2011. Centrality of striatal cholinergic transmission in basal ganglia
function. Frontiers in Neuroanatomy 5, Article, 6, http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/
Bruder, G.E., Kayser, J., Tenke, D.E., Leite, P., Schneier, F.R., Stewart, J.W., Quitkin,
F.M., 2002. Cognitive ERPs in depressive and anxiety disorders during
tonal and phonetic oddball tasks. Clinical Electroencephalography 33 (3),
Bruder, G.E., Kayser, J., Tenke, C.E., 2012. Event-related brain potentials in
depression: clinical, cognitive and neurophysiologic implications. In: Luck,
S.J., Kappenman, E.S. (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Event-Related Potential
Components. Oxford University Press, New York, pp. 563–592.
Acetylcholine-mediated modulation of striatal function. Trends in Neuro-
sciences 23 (3), 120–126.
Cardenas, V.A., Chao, L.L., Blumenfeld, R., Song, E., Meyerhoff, D.J., Weiner, M.W.,
Studholme, C., 2005. Using automated morphometry to detect associations
between ERP latency and structural brain MRI in normal adults. Human Brain
Mapping 25, 317–327.
Cilia, R., Cho, S.C., vanEimeren, T., Marotta, G., Siri, C., Ko, J.H., Pellecchia, G.,
Pezzoli, G., Antonini, A., Strafella, A.P., 2011. Pathological gambling in patients
with Parkinson’s disease is associated with fronto-striatal disconnection:
a path modeling analysis. Movement Disorders 26 (2), 225–233.
Connor, J.R., Wang, X.S., Allen, R.P., Beard, J.L., Wiesinger, J.A., Felt, B.T., Early, C.J.,
2009. Altered dopaminergic profile in the putamen and substantia nigra in
restless leg syndrome. Brain 132, 2403–2412.
Cycowicz, Y.M., Friedman, D., 1998. Effect of sound familiarity on the event-related
potentials elicited by novel environmental sounds. Brain and Cognition 36 (1),
De la Mora, M.P., Gallegos-Cari, A., Arizmendi-Garcı ´a, Y., Marcellino, D., Fuxe, K.,
2010. Role of dopamine receptor mechanisms in the amygdaloid modulation
of fear and anxiety: structural and functional analysis. Progress in Neurobiol-
ogy 90, 198–216.
Deboer, P., Heeringa, M.J., Abercrombie, E.D., 1996. Spontaneous release of
acetylcholine in striatum is preferentially regulated by inhibitory dopamine
D2 receptors. European Journal of Pharmacology 317 (2-3), 257–262.
Devrim-¨Uc -ok, M., Yasemin Keskin-Ergen, H.Y.,¨Uc -ok, A., 2006. Novelty P3 and P3b
in first-episode schizophrenia and chronic schizophrenia. Progress in Neuro-
Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry 30 (8), 1426–1434.
Dien, J., Spencer, K.M., Donchin, E., 2003. Localization of the event-related
potential novelty response as defined by principal components analysis.
Cognitive Brain Research 17, 637–650.
Dodin, V., Nandrino, J.-L., 2003. Cognitive processing of anorexic patients in
recognition tasks: an event-related potentials study. International Journal of
Eating Disorders 33 (3), 299–307.
Doebbeling, B.N., Clarke, W.R., Watson, D., Torner, J.C., Woolson, R.F., Voelker, M.D.,
Barrett, D.H., Schwartz, D.A., 2000. Is there a Persian Gulf War syndrome?
Evidence from a large population-based survey of veterans and nondeployed
controls. American Journal of Medicine 108 (9), 695–704.
Doi, R., Morita, K., Shigemori, M., Tokutomi, T., Maeda, H., 2007. Characteristics of
cognitive function in patients after traumatic brain injury assessed by visual
and auditory event-related potentials. American Journal of Physical Medicine
and Rehabilitation 86 (8), 641–649.
Dockree, P.M., Robertson, I.H., 2011 Electrophysiological markers of cognitive
deficits in traumatic brain injury: a review. International Journal of Psycho-
Eimer, M., 1993. Effects of attention and stimulus probability on ERPs in a Go/Nogo
task. Biological Psychology 35 (2), 123–138.
P., Pisani,A., Bernardi,G.,2000.
G.D. Tillman et al. / Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging 211 (2013) 257–267
Elting, J.W., Maurits, N., van Weerden, T., Spikeman, J., deKeyser, J., vanderNaalt, J.,
2008. P300 analysis techniques in cognitive impairment after brain injury:
comparison with neurophsychological and imaging data. Brain Injury 22,
Ergen, M., Marbach, S., Brand, A., Bas -ar-Ero˘ glu, C., Demiralp, T., 2008. P3 and delta
band responses in visual oddball paradigm in schizophrenia. Neuroscience
Letters 440 (3), 304–308.
Erwin, B.A., Heimberg, R.G., Marx, B.P., Franklin, M.E., 2006. Traumatic and socially
stressful life events among persons with social anxiety disorder. Journal of
Anxiety Disorders 20 (7), 896–914.
Etkin, A., Egner, T., Kalisch, R., 2011. Emotional processing in anterior cingulate
and medial prefrontal cortex. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 15 (2), 85–93.
Exley, R., Cragg, S.J., 2008. Presynaptic nicotinic receptors: a dynamic and diverse
cholinergic filter of striatal dopamine neurotransmission. British Journal of
Pharmacology 153 (1), S283–297.
First, M., Spitzer, R., Gibbon, M., Williams, J., 1996. Structured Clinical Interview for
DSM-IV Axis 1 Disorders—Non-Patient Edition (SCID-I/NP, Version2.0). New
York: Biometrics Research Department. New York State Psychiatric Institute.
Ford, J.D., Campbell, K.A., Storzbach, D., Binder, L., Anger, W.K., Rohlman, D.S.,
2001. Posttraumatic stress symptomology is associated with unexplained
illness attributed to Persian Gulf War military service. Psychosomatic Medi-
cine 63, 842–849.
Friedman, D., Cycowicz, Y.M., Gaeta, H., 2001. The novelty P3: an event-related
brain potential (ERP) sign of the brain’s evaluation of novelty. Neuroscience
and Biobehavioral Reviews 25, 355–373.
Friedman, D., Kazmerski, V.A., Cycowicz, Y.M., 1998. Effects of aging on the
novelty P3 during attend and ignore oddball tasks. Psychophysiology 35 (5),
Fukuda, K., Nisenbaum, R., Stewart, G., Thompson, W.W., Robin, L., Washko, R.M.,
Noah, D.L., Barrett, D.H., Randall, B., Herwaldt, B.L., Mawle, A.C., Reeves, W.C.,
1998. Chronic multisymptom illness affecting air force veterans of the Gulf War.
Journal of the American Medical Association 280 (11), 981–988, http://dx.doi.org/
Fusar-Poli, P., Howes, O.D., Allen, P., Broome, M., Valli, I., Asselin, M.-C.,
Montgomery, A.J., Grasby, P.M., McGuire, P., 2011. Abnormal prefrontal
activation directly related to pre-synaptic striatal dopamine dysfunction in
people at clinical high risk for psychosis. Molecular Psychiatry 16, 67–75.
Gaeta, H., Friedman, D., Hunt, G., 2003. Stimulus characteristics and task category
dissociate the anterior and posterior aspects of the novelty P3. Psychophysiol-
ogy 40, 198–208.
Galvan, A., Wichmann, T., 2008. Pathophysiology of Parkinsonism. Clinical Neu-
rophysiology 119, 1459–1474.
Giovannini, M.G., Rakovska, A., Benton, R.S., Pazzagli, M., Bianchi, L., Pepeu, G.,
2001. Effects of novelty and habituation on acetylcholine, GABA, and gluta-
mate release from the frontal cortex and hippocampus of freely moving rats.
Neuroscience 106, 43–53.
Greenhouse, I., Gould, S., Houser, M., Hicks, G., Gross, J., Aron, A.R., 2011.
Stimulation at dorsal and ventral electrode contacts targeted at the subtha-
lamic nucleus has different effects on motor and emotion functions in
Parkinson’s disease. Neuropsychologia 49 (3), 528–534.
Haley, R.W., Billecke, S., LaDu, B.N., 1999. Association of low PON1 type Q (type A)
arylesterase activity with neurologic symptom complexes in Gulf War veter-
ans. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology 157, 227–233.
Haley, R.W., Fleckenstein, J.L., Marshall, W.W., McDonald, G.G., Kramer, G.L., Petty,
F., 2000a. Effect of basal ganglia injury on central dopamine activity in Gulf
War syndrome: correlation of proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy and
plasma homovanillic acid levels. Archives of Neurology 57, 1280–1285.
Haley, R.W., Hom, J., Roland, P.S., Bryan, W.W., VanNess, P.C., Bonte, F.J., Devous,
M.D., Mathews, D., Fleckenstein, J.L., Wians, F.H., Wolfe, G.I., Kurt, T.L, 1997b.
Evaluation of neurologic function in Gulf War veterans: a blinded case-control
study. Journal of the American Medical Association 277 (3), 223–230.
Haley, R.W., Kurt, T.L., Hom, J., 1997a. Is there a Gulf War Syndrome? Searching for
syndromes by factor analysis of symptoms. Journal of the American Medical
Association 277, 215–222.
Haley, R.W., Luk, G.D., Petty, F., 2001. Use of structural equation modeling to test
the construct validity of a case definition of Gulf War syndrome: invariance
over developmental and validation samples, service branches and publicity.
Psychiatry Research 102, 175–200.
Haley, R.W., Marshall, W.W., McDonald, G.G., Daugherty, M.A., Petty, F., Fleck-
enstein, J.L., 2000b. Brain abnormalities in Gulf War syndrome: evaluation
with 1H MR spectroscopy. Radiology 215, 807–817.
Haley, R.W., Spence, J.S., Carmack, P.S., Gunst, R.F., Schucany, W.R., Petty, F.,
Devous, M.D.Sr., Bonte, F.J., Trivedi, M.H., 2009. Abnormal brain response to
cholinergic challenge in chronic encephalopathy from the 1991 Gulf War.
Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging 171, 207–220, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/
Hammond, E.J., Meador, K.J., Aung-Din, R., Wilder, B.J., 1987. Cholinergic modula-
tion of human P3 3vent-related potentials. Neurology 37, 346–350.
Heaton, K.J., Palumbo, CL., Proctor, S.P., Killiany, R.J., Yurgelun-Todd, D.A., White,
R.F., 2007. Quantitative magnetic resonance brain imaging in US army
veterans of the 1991 Gulf War potentially exposed to sarin and cyclosarin.
NeuroToxicology 28, 761–769.
Howes, O.D., Kapur, S., 2009. The dopamine hypothesis of schizophrenia: version
III—the final common pathway. Schizophrenia Bulletin 35, 549–562.
Iannacchione, V.G., Dever, J.A., Bann, C.M., Considine, K.A., Creel, D., Best, H.,
Carson, C.P., Haley, R.W., 2011. Validation of a research case definition of Gulf
War illness in the 1991 U.S. military population. Neuroepidemiology 37,
Institute of Medicine, 1995. Health consequences of service during the Persian
Gulf War: Initial findings and recommendation for immediate action. National
Academy Press, Washington, DC.
Kamitani, T., Kuroiwa, Y., Wang, L., Li, M., Suzuki, Y., Takahashi, T., Ikegami, T.,
Matsubara, S., 2002. Visual event-related poential changes in two subtypes of
multiple system atrophy. MSA-C and MSA-P. Journal of Neurology 249 (8),
Kang, H.K., Mahan, C.M., Lee, K.Y., Murphy, F.M., Simmens, S.J., Young, H.A., Levine,
P.H., 2002. Evidence for a deployment-related Gulf-War syndrome by factor
analysis. Archives of Environmental Health 57 (1), 61–68.
Karl, A., Malta, L.S., Maercker, A., 2006. Meta-analytic review of event-related
potential studies in post-traumatic stress disorder. Biological Psychology 71,
Keane, T.M., Caddell, J.M., Taylor, K.L., 1988. Mississippi Scale for Combat-Related
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: three studies in reliability and validity. Journal
of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 56, 85–90.
Kemner, C., Verbaten, M.N., Koelega, H.S., Buitelaar, JK., van der Gaag, R.J.,
Camfferman, G., van Engeland, H., 1996. Event-related brain potentials in
children with attention-deficit and hyperactivity disorder: effects of stimulus
deviancy and task relevance in visual and auditory modality. Biological
Psychiatry 15, 522–534.
Knight, R.T., 1996. Contribution of human hippocampal region to novelty detec-
tion. Nature 383, 256–259.
Knight, R.T., 1984. Decreased response to novel stimuli after prefrontal lesions in
man. Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology 59, 9–20.
Kogoj, A., Pirtoˇ sek, Z., Tomori, M., Voduˇ sek, D.B., 2005. Event-related potentials
elicited by distractors in an auditory oddball paradigm in schizophrenia.
Psychiatry Research 137, 49–59.
Kolassa, I.-T., Musial, F., Kolassa, S., Miltner, W.H.R., 2006. Event-related potentials
when identifying or color-naming threatening schematic stimuli in spider phobic
and non-phobic individuals. BMC Psychiatry 6 (38), http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/
Kolassa, I.-T., Musial, F., Mohr, A., Trippe, R.H., Miltner, W.H.R., 2005. Electro-
physiological correlates of threat processing in spider phobics. Psychophysiol-
ogy 42, 520–530, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-8986.2005.00315.x.
Kramer, A.F., Strayer, D.L., 1988. Assessing the development of automatic proces-
sing: an application of dual-task and event-related brain potential methodol-
ogies. Biological Psychology 26 (1-3), 231–267.
Li, M., Kuroiwa, Y., Wang, L., Kamitani, T., Takahashi, T., Suzuki, Y., Omoto, S., 2003.
Early sensory in formation processes are enhanced on visual oddball and
S1–S2 tasks in Parkinson’s disease: a visual event-related potential study.
Parkinsonism and Related Disorders 9 (6), 329–340.
Liu, P., Aslan, S., Li, X., Buhner, D.M., Spence, J.S., Briggs, R.W., Haley, R.W., Lu, H.,
2011. Perfusion deficit to cholinergic challenge in veterans with Gulf War
illness. NeuroToxicology 32 (2), 242–246.
Lo ´pez, J., Lo ´pez, V., Rojas, D., Carrasco, X., Rothhammer, P., Garcı ´a, R., Rothhammer,
F., Aboitiz, F., 2004. Effect of psychostimulants on distinct attentional para-
meters in attentional deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Biological Research 37 (3),
Maguire, M.J., Brier, M.R., Moore, P.S., Ferree, T.C., Ray, D., Mostofsky, S, Hart Jr., J.,
Kraut, M.A., 2009. The influence of perceptual and semantic categorization on
inhibitory processing as measured by the N2–P3 response. Brain and Cognition
71 (3), 196–203.
Marco-Pallare ´s, J., Nager, W., Kr¨ amer, U.M., Cunillera, T., Ca ´mara, E., Cucurell, D.,
Sch¨ ule, R., Sch¨ ols, L., Rodriguez-Fornells, A., M¨ unte, T.F., 2010. Neurophysio-
logical markers of novelty processing are modulated by COMT and DRD4
genotypes. NeuroImage 53 (3), 962–969.
McPherson, W.B., Holcomb, P.J., 1999. An electrophysiological investigation
of semantic priming with pictures of real objects. Psychophysiology 36,
Meador, K.J., Loring, D.W., Davis, H.C., Sethi, K.D., Patel, B.R., Adams, R.J., Hammond, E.J.,
1989. Cholinergic and serotonergic effects on the P3 potential and recent memory.
Journal Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology 11, 252–260.
Meinke, A., Thiel, C.M., Fink, G.R., 2006. Effects of nicotine on visuo-spatial selective
attention as indexed by event-related potentials. Neuroscience 141, 201–212.
Merrin, E.L., Floyd, T.C., 1994. P300 Responses to novel auditory stimuli in
hospitalized schizophrenic patients. Biological Psychiatry 36, 527–542.
Meyerhoff, D.J., Lindgren, J., Hardin, D., Griffis, J.M., Weiner, M.W., 2001. Metabolic
abnormalities in the brain of subjects with Gulf War illness [Abstract]. Proceedings
of the International Society for Magnetic Resonance Medicine 9, 994.
Monchi, O., Petrides, M., Doyon, J., Postuma, R.B., Worsley, K., Dagher, A., 2004.
Neural bases of set-shifting deficits in Parkinson’s disease. Journal of Neu-
roscience 24 (3), 702–710.
Morina, N., B¨ ohme, H.F., Ajdukovic, D., Bogic, M., Franciskovic, T., Galeazzi, G.M.,
Kucukalic, A., Lecic-Toseviski, D., Popovski, M., Sch¨ utzwohl, M., Stangier, U.,
Priebe, S., 2010. The structure of post-traumatic stress symptoms in survivors
of war: confirmatory factor analyses of the impact of event scale—revised.
Journal of Anxiety Disorders 24 (6), 606–611.
M¨ unte, T.F., Heinze, H.J., Scholz, M., K¨ unkel, H., 1988. Effects of a cholinergic
nootropic (WEB 1881 FU) on event-related potentials recorded in incidental
and intentional memory tasks. Neuropsychobiology 19, 158–168.
Nakamura, M., Matsushima, E., Ohta, K., Ando, K., Kojima, T., 2003. Relationship
between attention and arousal level in schizophrenia. Psychiatry and Clinical
Neurosciences 57, 472–477.
G.D. Tillman et al. / Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging 211 (2013) 257–267
Nijholt, I., Farchi, N., Kye, M., 2004. Stress-induced alternative splicing of Download full-text
acetylcholinesterase results in enhanced fear memory and long-term poten-
tiation. Molecular Psychiatry 9, 174–183.
Ochsner, K.N., Ray, R.D., Cooper, J.C., Robertson, E.R., Chopra, S., Gabrieli, J.D.E., Gross, J.J.,
2004. For better or for worse: neural systems supporting the cognitive down- and
up-regulation of negative emotion. NeuroImage 23, 483–499.
Parikh, V., Kozak, R., Martinez, V., Sarter, M., 2007. Prefrontal achetylcholine release
controls cue detection on multiple time scales. Neuron 56 (1), 141–154.
Pillay, S.S., Gruber, S.A., Rogowska, J., Simpson, N., Yurgelun-Todd, D.A., 2006. fMRI
of fearful facial affect recognition in panic disorder: the cingulate gyrus–
amygdala connection. Journal of Affective Disorders 94, 173–181.
Poceta, S.J., Houser, M., Polich, J., 2006. Event-related potentials in restless leg
syndrome and Parkinson’s disease [Abstract]. Sleep 28, A274.
Polich, J., 2007. Updating P300: an intergrative theory of P3a and P3b. Clinical
Neurophysiology 118, 2128–2148.
Porjesz, B., Begleiter, H., Reich, T., Van Eerdewegh, P., Edenberg, H.J., Foroud, T.,
Goate, A., Litke, A., Chorlian, D.B., Stirnus, A., Rice, J., Blangero, J., Almasy, L.,
Sorbell, J., Bauer, L.O., Kuperman, S., O’Connor, S.J., Rohrbaugh, R., 1998.
Amplitude of visual P3 phenotypic marker for a event-related potential as a
predisposition to alcoholism: preliminary results from the COGA project.
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 22 (6), 1317–1323.
Rapoport, M., McCauley, S., Levin, H., Song, J., Feinstein, A., 2002. The role of injury
severity in neurobehavioral outcome 3 months after traumatic brain injury.
Neuropsychiatry, Neuropsychology and Behavioral Neurology 15 (2), 123–132.
Rektor, I., Bares, M., Bra ´zdil, M., Kanovsky, P., Rektorova, I., Sochurkova, D., Kubova,
D., Kuba, R., Daniel, P., 2005. Cognitive- and movement-related potentials
recorded in the human basal ganglia. Movement Disorders 20 (5), 562–568.
Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses, 2008. Gulf War
Illness and the Health of Gulf War Veterans: Scientific Findings and Recom-
mendations. U. S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D. C.
Riemann, D., Voderholzer, U., 2003. Primary insomnia: a risk factor to develop
depression? Journal of Affective Disorders 76, 255–259.
Roche, R.A.P., Dockree, P.M., Garavan, H., Foxe, J.J., Robertson, I.H., O’Mara, S.M.,
2004. EEG alpha power changes reflect response inhibition deficits after
traumatic brain injury (TBI) in humans. Neuroscience Letters 362, 1–5.
Rokem, A., Landau, A.N., Garg, D., Prinzmetal, W., Silver, M.A., 2010. Cholinergic
enhancement increases the effects of voluntary attention but does not affect
involuntary attention. Neuropsychopharmacology 35, 2538–2544.
Rossignol, M., Philippot, P., Crommelinck, M., Campanella, S., 2008. Visual proces-
sing of emotional expressions in a mixed anxious-depressed subclinical state:
an event-related potential study on a female sample. Clinical Neurophysiology
Rossignol, M., Philippot, P., Douilliez, C., Crommelinck, M., Campanella, S., 2005.
The perception of fearful and happy facial expression is modulated by anxiety:
an event-related potential study. Neuroscience Letters 377, 115–120.
Ruscio, A.M., Borkovec, T.D., 2004. Experience and appraisal of worry among high
worriers with and without generalized anxiety disorder. Behaviour Research
and Therapy 42, 1469–1482.
Sachs, G., Anderer, P., Dantendorfer, K., Saletu, B., 2004. EEG mapping in patients
with social phobia. Psychiatry Research 131, 237–247.
Sagvolden, T., Johnasen, E.B., Aase, H., Russell, V.A., 2005. A dynamic develop-
mental theory of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) predomi-
nantly hyperactive/impulsive and combined subtypes. Behavior and Brain
Sciences 28 (3), 397–419.
Salmi, J., Huotilainen, M., Pakarinen, S., Siren, T., Alho, K., Aronen, E.T., 2005. Does
sleep quality affect involuntary attention switching system? Neuroscience
Letters 390, 150–155.
Schienle, A., K¨ ochel, A., Leutgeb, V., 2011. Frontal late positivity in dental phobia:
a study on gender differences. Biological Psychiatry 88, 263–269, http://dx.doi.org/
Schienle, A., Sch¨ afer, A., Stark, R., Vaitl, D., 2009. Long-term effects of cognitive
behavior therapy on brain activation in spider phobia. Psychiatry Research 172
Thompson, K.E., Vasterling, J.J., Benotsch, E.G., Brailey, K., Constans, J., Uddo, M.,
Sutker, P.B., 2004. Early symptom predictors of chronic distress in Gulf War
veterans. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disorders 192, 146–152.
Tillman, G.D., Green, T.A., Ferree, T.C., Calley, C.S., Maguire, M.J., Briggs, R., Hart Jr., J.,
Haley, R.W., Kraut, M.A., 2010. Impaired response inhibition in ill Gulf War
veterans. Journal of the Neurological Sciences 297 (1-2), 1–5.
Toda, M., Abi-Dargham, A., 2007. Dopamine hypothesis of schizophrenia: making
sense of it all. Current Psychiatry Reports 9, 329–336.
Trujillo, L.T., Kornguth, S., Schnyer, D.M., 2009. An ERP examination of the different
effects of sleep deprivation on exogenously cued and endogenously cued
attention. Sleep 32 (10), 1285–1297.
Turetsky, B.I., Cannon, T.D., Gur, R.E., 2000. P300 subcomponent abnormalities in
schizophrenia: III. Deficits in unaffected siblings of schizophrenic probands.
Biological Psychiatry 47 (5), 380–390.
Volkmann, J., Daniels, C., Witt, K., 2010. Neuropsychiatric effects of subthalamic
neurostimulation in Parkinson disease. Nature Reviews Neurology 6 (9),
Volpe, U., Mucci, A., Bucci, P., Merlotti, E., Galderisi, S., Maj, M., 2007. The cortical
generators of P3a and P3b: a LORETA study. Brain Research Bulletin 73 (4-6),
Watter, S., Geffen, G.M., Geffen, L.B., 2001. The n-back as a dual-task: P300
morphology under divided attention. Psychophysiology 30, 998–1003.
Weisbrod, M., Kiefer, M., Marzinzik, F., Spitzer, M., 2000. Executive control in
disturbed in schizophrenia: evidence from event-related potentials in a
go/nogo task. Biological Psychiatry 47, 51–60.
Welborn, B.L., Papdemitris, X., Reis, D.L., Rajeevan, N., Bloise, S.M., Gray, J.R., 2009.
Variation in orbitofrontal cortex volume: relation to sex, emotion regulation
and affect. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 4 (4), 328–339.
G.D. Tillman et al. / Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging 211 (2013) 257–267