Theta synchronization and alpha desynchronization in a memory task

Psychophysiology. 1997 Mar;34(2):169-76. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8986.1997.tb02128.x.


In the present study, we examined the hypothesis that episodic encoding and retrieval processes are primarily reflected by a task-related increase in theta power. Individuals performed a recognition task with a total of 192 words. The electroencephalogram was recorded during the study and recognition phase. The results show that only those words that were later correctly recognized produced a significant increase in theta power during encoding. During the actual recognition processes too, a significant theta synchronization (increase in band power) was found for correctly remembered words only. In contrast to the theta band, remembered and not remembered words revealed a complex pattern of desynchronization in the lower and upper alpha band that was different during encoding and recognition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alpha Rhythm*
  • Cortical Synchronization*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Theta Rhythm*