Phase-dependent amplification of working memory content and performance

Sanne Ten Oever*, Peter De Weerd, Alexander T. Sack

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Web of Science)

Abstract

Successful working memory performance has been related to oscillatory mechanisms operating in low-frequency ranges. Yet, their mechanistic interaction with the distributed neural activity patterns representing the content of the memorized information remains unclear. Here, we record EEG during a working memory retention interval, while a task-irrelevant, high-intensity visual impulse stimulus is presented to boost the read-out of distributed neural activity related to the content held in working memory. Decoding of this activity with a linear classifier reveals significant modulations of classification accuracy by oscillatory phase in the theta/alpha ranges at the moment of impulse presentation. Additionally, behavioral accuracy is highest at the phases showing maximized decoding accuracy. At those phases, behavioral accuracy is higher in trials with the impulse compared to no-impulse trials. This constitutes the first evidence in humans that working memory information is maximized within limited phase ranges, and that phase-selective, sensory impulse stimulation can improve working memory. Neuronal patterns during working memory show low-frequency oscillatory activity. Here, the authors demonstrate a rhythmic retention of working memory information in theta and alpha frequency ranges. Moreover, phase-locked amplification of the retained information improves working memory performance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1832
Number of pages8
JournalNature Communications
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 14 Apr 2020

Keywords

  • THETA-OSCILLATIONS
  • NEURONAL OSCILLATIONS
  • NEURAL OSCILLATIONS
  • FRONTAL THETA
  • GAMMA-POWER
  • ALPHA
  • REPRESENTATIONS
  • EXCITABILITY
  • MECHANISM
  • OBJECTS

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