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Biology 2015, 4(1), 1-16; doi:10.3390/biology4010001

Interacting Memory Systems—Does EEG Alpha Activity Respond to Semantic Long-Term Memory Access in a Working Memory Task?

1
Department of Psychology, Ludwig-Maximilians University, Leopoldstr. 13, 80802 Munich, Germany
2
School of Psychology, University of Surrey, GU2 7XH Guildford, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Bertram Opitz
Received: 18 August 2014 / Accepted: 15 December 2014 / Published: 24 December 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Neural Mechanisms of Learning and Memory)
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Abstract

Memory consists of various individual processes which form a dynamic system co-ordinated by central (executive) functions. The episodic buffer as direct interface between episodic long-term memory (LTM) and working memory (WM) is fairly well studied but such direct interaction is less clear in semantic LTM. Here, we designed a verbal delayed-match-to-sample task specifically to differentiate between pure information maintenance and mental manipulation of memory traces with and without involvement of access to semantic LTM. Task-related amplitude differences of electroencephalographic (EEG) oscillatory brain activity showed a linear increase in frontal-midline theta and linear suppression of parietal beta amplitudes relative to memory operation complexity. Amplitude suppression at upper alpha frequency, which was previously found to indicate access to semantic LTM, was only sensitive to mental manipulation in general, irrespective of LTM involvement. This suggests that suppression of upper EEG alpha activity might rather reflect unspecific distributed cortical activation during complex mental processes than accessing semantic LTM. View Full-Text
Keywords: beta; brain oscillations; electroencephalography; synchronisation; theta beta; brain oscillations; electroencephalography; synchronisation; theta
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Berger, B.; Omer, S.; Minarik, T.; Sterr, A.; Sauseng, P. Interacting Memory Systems—Does EEG Alpha Activity Respond to Semantic Long-Term Memory Access in a Working Memory Task? Biology 2015, 4, 1-16.

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