The amount of information that can be stored in visual short-term memory is strictly limited to about four items . Therefore, memory capacity relies not only on the successful retention of relevant information but also on efficient suppression of distracting information, visual attention, and executive functions [2-5]. However, completely separable neural signatures for these memory capacity-limiting factors remain to be identified. Because of its functional diversity [6-9], oscillatory brain activity may offer a utile solution. In the present study, we show that capacity-determining mechanisms, namely retention of relevant information and suppression of distracting information, are based on neural substrates independent of each other: the successful maintenance of relevant material in short-term memory is associated with cross-frequency phase synchronization between theta (rhythmical neural activity around 5 Hz) and gamma (>50 Hz) oscillations at posterior parietal recording sites. On the other hand, electroencephalographic alpha activity (around 10 Hz) predicts memory capacity based on efficient suppression of irrelevant information in short-term memory. Moreover, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation at alpha frequency can modulate short-term memory capacity by influencing the ability to suppress distracting information. Taken together, the current study provides evidence for a double dissociation of brain oscillatory correlates of visual short-term memory capacity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)