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Cereb Cortex. 2009 Jul;19(7):1631-40. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhn197. Epub 2008 Nov 11.

Brain oscillations dissociate between semantic and nonsemantic encoding of episodic memories.

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Department of Experimental Psychology, Regensburg University, Universitätsstrase 31, Regensburg, Germany.


Prior studies, mostly using intentional learning, suggest that power increases in theta and gamma oscillations and power decreases in alpha and beta oscillations are positively related to later remembering. Using incidental learning, this study investigated whether these brain oscillatory subsequent memory effects can be differentiated by encoding task. One group of subjects studied material performing a semantic (deep) encoding task, whereas the other group studied the same material performing a nonsemantic (shallow) encoding task. Successful encoding in the semantic task was related to power decreases in the alpha (8-12 Hz) and beta (12-20 Hz) frequency band, and a power increase in the gamma band (55-70 Hz). In the shallow task, successful encoding was related to a power decrease in the alpha band and a power increase in the theta frequency band (4-7 Hz). A direct comparison of results between the 2 encoding tasks revealed that semantic subsequent memory effects were specifically reflected by power decreases in the beta (0.5-1.5 s) and the alpha frequency band (0.5-1.0 s), whereas nonsemantic subsequent memory effects were specifically reflected by a power increase in the theta frequency band (0.5-1.0 s).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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