• binding problem;
  • central executive function;
  • human scalp EEG;
  • phase-amplitude coupling;
  • working memory


The current focus of studies on neural entities for memory maintenance is on the interplay between fast neuronal oscillations in the gamma band and slow oscillations in the theta or delta band. The hierarchical coupling of slow and fast oscillations is crucial for the rehearsal of sensory inputs for short-term storage, as well as for binding sensory inputs that are represented in spatially segregated cortical areas. However, no experimental evidence for the binding of spatially segregated information has yet been presented for memory maintenance in humans. In the present study, we actively manipulated memory maintenance performance with an attentional blink procedure during human scalp electroencephalography (EEG) recordings and identified that slow oscillations are enhanced when memory maintenance is successful. These slow oscillations accompanied fast oscillations in the gamma frequency range that appeared at spatially segregated scalp sites. The amplitude of the gamma oscillation at these scalp sites was simultaneously enhanced at an EEG phase of the slow oscillation. Successful memory maintenance appears to be achieved by a rehearsal of sensory inputs together with a coordination of distributed fast oscillations at a preferred timing of the slow oscillations.