Long-range EEG synchronization during word encoding correlates with successful memory performance

Brain Res Cogn Brain Res. 2000 Jun;9(3):299-312. doi: 10.1016/s0926-6410(00)00011-2.


Distinct cortical activity during memory encoding of words, which were either recalled or not, was reported by a number of studies. This activity was mainly found at frontal and temporal/parietal brain regions. However, it was not clear if these regions interact with each other or work independently. In order to get a functional measure of the degree of neuronal large-scale cooperation, we calculated EEG coherence, which provides a statistical measure of synchronization between two EEG signals per frequency band. Therefore, coherence enables us to assess the functional interaction between cell assemblies of distant brain regions. The purpose of our study was to investigate if successfully recalled words show enhanced cortical synchronization compared with not recalled ones. Additionally, the influence of stimulus modality and the way different EEG frequencies participate in this process was examined. The EEG of 25 participants was recorded during memory encoding of concrete German nouns, either presented auditorily or visually and stimuli were separated according to the participant's memory performance. Recalled nouns exhibited overall enhanced synchronization but showed typical patterns, especially between anterior and posterior brain regions in all frequency bands except the alpha-1 band (8-10 Hz). Recalling nouns was accompanied by increased synchronization between more distant electrodes in relation to an increase of synchronization between adjacent electrodes. Moreover, the degree of intrahemispheric synchronization was higher for recalled nouns. The pattern of EEG coherence and amplitude changes during verbal memory encoding allowed us to assess the probability that nouns would be recalled or not.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adult
  • Auditory Cortex / physiology
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Cortical Synchronization*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Language
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Verbal Learning / physiology*
  • Visual Cortex / physiology