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J Neurosci. 2003 Nov 26;23(34):10809-14.

Theta and gamma oscillations during encoding predict subsequent recall.

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  • 1Volen Center for Complex Systems, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts 02454, USA.


Electrophysiological and hemodynamic measures of human brain activity have been shown to distinguish between episodes of encoding items that are later recalled versus those that are not recalled (Paller and Wagner, 2002). Using intracranial recordings from 793 widespread cortical and subcortical sites in 10 epileptic patients undergoing invasive monitoring, we compared oscillatory power at frequencies ranging from 2 to 64 Hz as participants studied lists of common nouns. Significant increases in oscillatory power during encoding predicted subsequent recall, with this effect predominantly in the 4-8 Hz (theta) and 28-64 Hz (gamma) frequency bands. Sites exhibiting increased theta activity during successful encoding were clustered in right temporal and frontal cortex, whereas those exhibiting increased gamma activity appeared bilaterally at widespread cortical locations. These findings implicate theta and gamma oscillatory activity, across a widespread network of cortical regions, in the formation of new episodic memories.

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