Introduction: This study investigates P300 as a component for false belief and false statement processing with and without a communicative context. The purpose is to understand why P300 has been shown to be commonly involved in false belief and lie processing.
Methods: Participants were presented with a story in which the protagonist holds a true belief and makes a true statement of it (true belief), holds a false belief and makes a true statement (false belief), or holds a true belief and makes a false statement (false statement) while electroencephalograms were recorded.
Results: In Experiment 1, featuring a solitary protagonist, stronger posterior P300 was shown in the false belief condition than the true belief and false statement condition. With the installation of a communicative context by including a second character listening to the protagonist, Experiment 2 showed enhanced frontal P300 in the false statement condition compared to the true belief and false belief condition. A late slow wave was more prominent in the false belief condition than in the other two conditions in Experiment 2.
Conclusion: The present results suggest a situation-dependent nature of P300. The signal captures the discrepancy between belief and reality more readily than that between belief and words under a noncommunicative context. It becomes more sensitive to the discrepancy between belief and words than that between belief and reality in a communicative situation with an audience, which makes any false statement practically a lie. Copyright © 2023 The Authors.
CitationWang, Y., Siu, C. T. S., & Cheung, H. (2023). P300 as a correlate of false beliefs and false statements. Brain and Behavior, 13(6), Article e3021. https://doi.org/10.1002/brb3.3021
- False belief
- Theory of mind