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Nature. 2010 Apr 8;464(7290):903-7. doi: 10.1038/nature08860. Epub 2010 Mar 24.

Human memory strength is predicted by theta-frequency phase-locking of single neurons.

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1
Computation and Neural Systems and Division of Biology, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California 91125, USA.

Abstract

Learning from novel experiences is a major task of the central nervous system. In mammals, the medial temporal lobe is crucial for this rapid form of learning. The modification of synapses and neuronal circuits through plasticity is thought to underlie memory formation. The induction of synaptic plasticity is favoured by coordinated action-potential timing across populations of neurons. Such coordinated activity of neural populations can give rise to oscillations of different frequencies, recorded in local field potentials. Brain oscillations in the theta frequency range (3-8 Hz) are often associated with the favourable induction of synaptic plasticity as well as behavioural memory. Here we report the activity of single neurons recorded together with the local field potential in humans engaged in a learning task. We show that successful memory formation in humans is predicted by a tight coordination of spike timing with the local theta oscillation. More stereotyped spiking predicts better memory, as indicated by higher retrieval confidence reported by subjects. These findings provide a link between the known modulation of theta oscillations by many memory-modulating behaviours and circuit mechanisms of plasticity.

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PMID:
20336071
DOI:
10.1038/nature08860
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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