Display Settings:


Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Clin Neurophysiol. 2003 Jun;114(6):1144-52.

Event-related brain potentials in memory: correlates of episodic, semantic and implicit memory.

Author information

  • 1Neurology Clinic, Epileptology and Electroencephalography, University Hospital Zurich, Frauenklinikstrasse 26, CH 8091, Zurich, Switzerland.



To study cognitive evoked potentials, recorded from scalp EEG and foramen ovale electrodes, during activation of explicit and implicit memory. The subgroups of explicit memory, episodic and semantic memory, are looked at separately.


A word-learning task was used, which has been shown to activate hippocampus in H(2)(15)O positron emission tomography studies. Subjects had to study and remember word pairs using different learning strategies: (i) associative word learning (AWL), which activates the episodic memory, (ii) deep single word encoding (DSWE), which activates the semantic memory, and (iii) shallow single word encoding (SSWE), which activates the implicit memory and serves as a baseline. The test included the 'remember/know' paradigm as a behavioural learning control. During the task condition, a 10-20 scalp EEG with additional electrodes in both temporal lobes regions was recorded from 11 healthy volunteers. In one patient with mesiotemporal lobe epilepsy, the EEG was recorded from bilateral foramen ovale electrodes directly from mesial temporal lobe structures. Event-related potentials (ERPs) were calculated off-line and visual and statistical analyses were made.


Associative learning strategy produced the best memory performance and the best noetic awareness experience, whereas shallow single word encoding produced the worst performance and the smallest noetic awareness. Deep single word encoding performance was in between. ERPs differed according to the test condition, during both encoding and retrieval, from both the scalp EEG and the foramen ovale electrode recordings. Encoding showed significant differences between the shallow single word encoding (SSWE), which is mainly a function of graphical characteristics, and the other two strategies, deep single word (DSWE) and associative learning (AWL), in which there is a semantic processing of the meaning. ERPs generated by these two categories, which are both functions of explicit memory, differed as well, indicating the presence or the absence of associative binding. Retrieval showed a significant test effect between the word pairs learned by association (AWL) and the ones learned by encoding the words in isolation of each other (DSWE and SSWE). The comparison of the ERPs generated by autonoetic awareness ('remember') and noetic awareness ('know') exhibited a significant test effect as well.


The results of behavioural data, in particular that of the 'remember/know' procedure, are evidence that the task paradigm was efficient in activating different kinds of memory. Associative word learning generated a high degree of autonoetic awareness, which is a result of the episodic memory, whereas both kinds of single word learning generated less. AWL, DSWE and SSWE resulted in different electrophysiological correlates, both for encoding as well as retrieval, indicating that different brain structures were activated in different temporal sequence.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk