Modulating Human Memory via Entrainment of Brain Oscillations

Trends Neurosci. 2019 Jul;42(7):485-499. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2019.04.004. Epub 2019 Jun 6.


In the human brain, oscillations occur during neural processes that are relevant for memory. This has been demonstrated by a plethora of studies relating memory processes to specific oscillatory signatures. Several recent studies have gone beyond such correlative approaches and provided evidence supporting the idea that modulating oscillations via frequency-specific entrainment can alter memory functions. Such causal evidence is important because it allows distinguishing mechanisms directly related to memory from mere epiphenomenal oscillatory signatures of memory. This review provides an overview of stimulation studies using different approaches to entrain brain oscillations for modulating human memory. We argue that these studies demonstrate a causal link between brain oscillations and memory, speaking against an epiphenomenal perspective of brain oscillations.

Keywords: TMS; brain oscillations; brain stimulation; cross-frequency coupling; deep brain stimulation; entrainment; episodic memory; flicker; hippocampus; tACS; working memory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Waves / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Memory / physiology*