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Repetition suppression of induced gamma band responses is eliminated by task switching


Dr T. Gruber, as above.


The formation of cortical object representations requires the activation of cell assemblies, correlated by induced oscillatory bursts of activity > 20 Hz (induced gamma band responses; iGBRs). One marker of the functional dynamics within such cell assemblies is the suppression of iGBRs elicited by repeated stimuli. This effect is commonly interpreted as a signature of ‘sharpening’ processes within cell-assemblies, which are behaviourally mirrored in repetition priming effects. The present study investigates whether the sharpening of primed objects is an automatic consequence of repeated stimulus processing, or whether it depends on task demands. Participants performed either a ‘living/non-living’ or a ‘bigger/smaller than a shoebox’ classification on repeated pictures of everyday objects. We contrasted repetition-related iGBR effects after the same task was used for initial and repeated presentations (no-switch condition) with repetitions after a task-switch occurred (switch condition). Furthermore, we complemented iGBR analysis by examining other brain responses known to be modulated by repetition-related memory processes (evoked gamma oscillations and event-related potentials; ERPs). The results obtained for the ‘no-switch’ condition replicated previous findings of repetition suppression of iGBRs at 200–300 ms after stimulus onset. Source modelling showed that this effect was distributed over widespread cortical areas. By contrast, after a task-switch no iGBR suppression was found. We concluded that iGBRs reflect the sharpening of a cell assembly only within the same task. After a task switch the complete object representation is reactivated. The ERP (220–380 ms) revealed suppression effects independent of task demands in bilateral posterior areas and might indicate correlates of repetition priming in perceptual structures.

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