Episodic memory retrieval functionally relies on very rapid reactivation of sensory information

Waldhauser, G. T. , Braun, V. and Hanslmayr, S. (2016) Episodic memory retrieval functionally relies on very rapid reactivation of sensory information. Journal of Neuroscience, 36(1), pp. 251-260. (doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2101-15.2016) (PMID:26740665) (PMCID:PMC6601789)

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Abstract

Episodic memory retrieval is assumed to rely on the rapid reactivation of sensory information that was present during encoding, a process termed “ecphory.” We investigated the functional relevance of this scarcely understood process in two experiments in human participants. We presented stimuli to the left or right of fixation at encoding, followed by an episodic memory test with centrally presented retrieval cues. This allowed us to track the reactivation of lateralized sensory memory traces during retrieval. Successful episodic retrieval led to a very early (∼100–200 ms) reactivation of lateralized alpha/beta (10–25 Hz) electroencephalographic (EEG) power decreases in the visual cortex contralateral to the visual field at encoding. Applying rhythmic transcranial magnetic stimulation to interfere with early retrieval processing in the visual cortex led to decreased episodic memory performance specifically for items encoded in the visual field contralateral to the site of stimulation. These results demonstrate, for the first time, that episodic memory functionally relies on very rapid reactivation of sensory information.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Hanslmayr, Professor Simon
Authors: Waldhauser, G. T., Braun, V., and Hanslmayr, S.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology
Journal Name:Journal of Neuroscience
Publisher:Society for Neuroscience
ISSN:0270-6474
ISSN (Online):1529-2401

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