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Keywords:

  • working memory;
  • encoding;
  • gamma band;
  • intracranial EEG

Abstract

Many of our daily activities rely on a brain system called working memory, which implements our ability to encode information for short-term maintenance, possible manipulation, and retrieval. A recent intracranial study of patients performing a paradigmatic working memory task revealed that the maintenance of information involves a distributed network of oscillations in the gamma band (>40 Hz). Using a similar task, we focused on the encoding stage and targeted a process referred to as short-term consolidation, which corresponds to the encoding of novel items in working memory. The paradigm was designed to manipulate the subjects' intention to encode: series of 10 letters were presented, among which only five had to be remembered, as indicated by visual cues preceding or following each letter. During this task we recorded the intracerebral EEG of nine epileptic patients implanted in mesiotemporal structures, perisylvian regions, and prefrontal areas and used time–frequency analysis to search for neural activities simultaneous with the encoding of the letters into working memory. We found such activities in the form of increases of gamma band activity in a set of regions associated with the phonological loop, including the Broca area and the auditory cortex, and in the prefrontal cortex, the pre- and postcentral gyri, the hippocampus, and the fusiform gyrus. Hum Brain Mapp, 2007. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.