Hippocampal theta-phase modulation of replay correlates with configural-relational short-term memory performance

J Neurosci. 2011 May 11;31(19):7038-42. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.6305-10.2011.


There is now growing evidence that the hippocampus generates theta rhythms that can phase bias fast neural oscillations in the neocortex, allowing coordination of widespread fast oscillatory populations outside limbic areas. A recent magnetoencephalographic study showed that maintenance of configural-relational scene information in a delayed match-to-sample (DMS) task was associated with replay of that information during the delay period. The periodicity of the replay was coordinated by the phase of the ongoing theta rhythm, and the degree of theta coordination during the delay period was positively correlated with DMS performance. Here, we reanalyzed these data to investigate which brain regions were involved in generating the theta oscillations that coordinated the periodic replay of configural-relational information. We used a beamformer algorithm to produce estimates of regional theta rhythms and constructed volumetric images of the phase-locking between the local theta cycle and the instances of replay (in the 13-80 Hz band). We found that individual differences in DMS performance for configural-relational associations were related to the degree of phase coupling of instances of cortical reactivations to theta oscillations generated in the right posterior hippocampus and the right inferior frontal gyrus. This demonstrates that the timing of memory reactivations in humans is biased toward hippocampal theta phase.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Theta Rhythm / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology
  • Young Adult