Dissociating the effects of semantic grouping and rehearsal strategies on event-related brain potentials

T.M.J. Schleepen, C.R. Markus, L.M. Jonkman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

The application of elaborative encoding strategies during learning, such as grouping items on similar semantic categories, increases the likelihood of later recall. Previous studies have suggested that stimuli that encourage semantic grouping strategies had modulating effects on specific ERP components. However, these studies did not differentiate between ERP activation patterns evoked by elaborative working memory strategies like semantic grouping and more simple strategies like rote rehearsal. Identification of neurocognitive correlates underlying successful use of elaborative strategies is important to understand better why certain populations, like children or elderly people, have problems applying such strategies. To compare ERP activation during the application of elaborative versus more simple strategies subjects had to encode either four semantically related or unrelated pictures by respectively applying a semantic category grouping or a simple rehearsal strategy. Another goal was to investigate if maintenance of semantically grouped vs. ungrouped pictures modulated ERP-slow waves differently. At the behavioral level there was only a semantic grouping benefit in terms of faster responding on correct rejections (i.e. when the memory probe stimulus was not part of the memory set). At the neural level, during encoding semantic grouping only had a modest specific modulatory effect on a fronto-central Late Positive Component (LPC) , emerging around 650ms. Other ERP components (i.e. P200, N400 and a second Late Positive Component) that had been earlier related to semantic grouping encoding processes now showed stronger modulation by rehearsal than by semantic grouping. During maintenance semantic grouping had specific modulatory effects on left and right frontal slow wave activity. These results stress the importance of careful control of strategy use when investigating the neural correlates of elaborative encoding.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-328
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Psychophysiology
Volume94
Issue number3
Early online date18 Sep 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014

Keywords

  • ATTENTION
  • ENCODING STRATEGIES
  • ERPs
  • Elaborative memory strategies
  • Encoding
  • FREE-RECALL
  • INFORMATION
  • LEARNING-STRATEGIES
  • Maintenance
  • OBJECT FORM
  • ORGANIZATIONAL STRATEGIES
  • PREFRONTAL CORTEX
  • RECOGNITION MEMORY
  • Rehearsal
  • Semantic grouping
  • WORKING-MEMORY DEMAND

Cite this