Oscillatory Brain Activity Dissociates Between Associative Stimulus Content in a Repetition Priming Task in the Human EEG

Cereb Cortex. 2005 Jan;15(1):109-16. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhh113. Epub 2004 Jul 6.


The retrieval and formation of cortical object representations seem to require the activation of neuronal cell assemblies, correlated by synchronized neuronal activity in the gamma band range (>20 Hz). In the present electroencephalogram (EEG) study we have analysed induced gamma band activity during the repetition of familiar (meaningful) and unfamiliar (meaningless) line drawings. Results showed a broad posterior distribution of induced gamma band responses (GBRs) after the initial presentation of a familiar stimulus. Repeated presentations of the same picture resulted in a decrease of GBRs, accompanied by a decrease in the number of electrode pairs exhibiting significant phase-locking values. These effects might be linked to a 'sharpening' mechanism within a cell assembly representing a familiar object. In contrast, the re-presentation of primed unfamiliar stimuli was associated with an augmentation of gamma power and an increase in significantly phase-locked pairs of electrodes. These findings might be a signature of the formation of a new cortical network representing an object. Event related potentials (ERPs) showed a decrease in amplitude independent of the stimuli's associative content, and, thus, seem to play a complementary role in repetition priming as compared to high-frequency brain dynamics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Association Learning / physiology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography*
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology
  • Periodicity