Neural oscillations in the theta range (4-8 Hz) are thought to underlie associative memory function in the hippocampal-cortical network. While there is ample evidence supporting a role of theta oscillations in animal and human memory, most evidence is correlational. Non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS) can be employed to modulate cortical oscillatory activity to influence brain activity, and possibly modulate deeper brain regions, such as hippocampus, through strong and reliable cortico-hippocampal functional connections. We applied focal transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) at 6 Hz over left parietal cortex to modulate brain activity in the putative cortico-hippocampal network to influence associative memory encoding. After encoding and brain stimulation, participants completed an associative memory and a perceptual recognition task. Results showed that theta tACS significantly decreased associative memory performance but did not affect perceptual memory performance. These results show that parietal theta tACS modulates associative processing separately from perceptual processing, and further substantiate the hypothesis that theta oscillations are implicated in the cortico-hippocampal network and associative encoding.
- Theta oscillations
- Associative memory
- Transcranial alternating current stimulation
- Non-invasive brain stimulation
- Network stimulation
- BOLD SIGNAL