Dissociation of the functional relevance of different pre-stimulus oscillatory activity for memory formation

Neuroimage. 2016 Jan 15:125:1013-1021. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.10.037. Epub 2015 Oct 17.


The state of a neural assembly preceding an incoming stimulus modulates the processing of that subsequently presented stimuli. For human memory formation, the role of oscillatory brain activity within different frequency ranges has been discussed but a more functional relation could not be established. In the present Experiment I, an increase of pre-stimulus theta- (3-7Hz) and beta- (13-17Hz) band oscillations during encoding for later remembered stimuli was observed. To establish a more direct functional relation, we adopted a novel brain-computer-interface (BCI) method to selectively detect oscillatory activity in real-time combined with an adaptive stimulus presentation at different levels of activity. Therefore, in the second experiment the BCI was used to present the visual stimuli with a high temporal resolution directly within defined brain states of beta- or theta-band activity. The quality of the subsequent processing of the stimuli was assessed at the behavioral level with a surprise recognition task. Results revealed a variation of memory performance in direct relation to the amount of pre-stimulus beta- but not theta-band oscillations, suggesting a functional relevance of beta-band oscillations for memory encoding. Thus, the BCI method enabled a more functional differentiation of the effective role of ongoing oscillatory activity.

Keywords: Brain–computer interface; EEG; Memory; Oscillatory activity; Pre-stimulus activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Brain-Computer Interfaces*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • User-Computer Interface*