Oscillatory activity in prefrontal and posterior regions during implicit letter-location binding

Neuroimage. 2010 Feb 1;49(3):2807-15. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.10.024. Epub 2009 Oct 22.


Many cognitive abilities involve the integration of information from different modalities, a process referred to as "binding." It remains less clear, however, whether the creation of bound representations occurs in an involuntary manner, and whether the links between the constituent features of an object are symmetrical. We used magnetoencephalography to investigate whether oscillatory brain activity related to binding processes would be observed in conditions in which participants maintain one feature only (involuntary binding); and whether this activity varies as a function of the feature attended to by participants (binding asymmetry). Participants performed two probe recognition tasks that were identical in terms of their perceptual characteristics and only differed with respect to the instructions given (to memorize either consonants or locations). MEG data were reconstructed using a current source distribution estimation in the classical frequency bands. We observed implicit verbal-spatial binding only when participants successfully maintained the identity of consonants, which was associated with a selective increase in oscillatory activity over prefrontal regions in all frequency bands during the first half of the retention period and accompanied by increased activity in posterior brain regions. The increase in oscillatory activity in prefrontal areas was only observed during the verbal task, which suggests that this activity might be signaling neural processes specifically involved in cross-code binding. Current results are in agreement with proposals suggesting that the prefrontal cortex function as a "pointer" which indexes the features that belong together within an object.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Male
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Young Adult