Theta and alpha oscillations during working-memory maintenance predict successful long-term memory encoding

Neurosci Lett. 2010 Jan 14;468(3):339-43. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2009.11.028. Epub 2009 Nov 14.


To date, much is known about the neural mechanisms underlying working-memory (WM) maintenance and long-term-memory (LTM) encoding. However, these topics have typically been examined in isolation, and little is known about how these processes might interact. Here, we investigated whether EEG oscillations arising specifically during the delay of a delayed matching-to-sample task reflect successful LTM encoding. Given previous findings of increased alpha and theta power with increasing WM load, together with the assumption that successful memory encoding involves processes that are similar to those that are invoked by increasing WM load, alpha and theta power should be higher for subsequently remembered stimuli. Consistent with this assumption, we found stronger alpha power for subsequently remembered stimuli over occipital-to-parietal scalp sites. Furthermore, stronger theta power was found for subsequently remembered stimuli over parietal-to-central electrodes. These results support the idea that alpha and theta oscillations modulate successful LTM encoding.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alpha Rhythm
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory*
  • Memory, Short-Term
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Theta Rhythm
  • Young Adult