Numerous studies have focused on changes in the activity in the hippocampus and higher association areas with consolidation and memory stabilization. Even though perceptual areas are engaged in memory recall, little is known about how memory stabilization is reflected in those areas. Using magnetoencephalography (MEG) we investigated changes in visual areas with memory stabilization. Subjects were trained on associating a face to one of eight locations. The first set of associations ('stabilized') was learned in three sessions distributed over a week. The second set ('labile') was learned in one session just prior to the MEG measurement. In the recall session only the face was presented and subjects had to indicate the correct location using a joystick. The MEG data revealed robust gamma activity during recall, which started in early visual cortex and propagated to higher visual and parietal brain areas. The occipital gamma power was higher for the labile than the stabilized condition (time = 0.65-0.9 s). Also the event-related field strength was higher during recall of labile than stabilized associations (time = 0.59-1.5 s). We propose that recall of the spatial associations prior to memory stabilization involves a top-down process relying on reconstructing learned representations in visual areas. This process is reflected in gamma band activity consistent with the notion that neuronal synchronization in the gamma band is required for visual representations. More direct synaptic connections are formed with memory stabilization, thus decreasing the dependence on visual areas. © 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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