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Oscillations support short latency co-firing of neurons during human episodic memory formation

Publication year 2022
Published in eLife
Authors M.W. Self, Frédéric Roux, George Parish, Ramesh Chelvarajah, David T Rollings, Vijay Sawlani, Hajo Hamer, Stephanie Gollwitzer, Gernot Kreiselmeyer, Marije J Ter Wal, Luca Kolibius, Bernhard P Staresina, Maria Wimber, Simon Hanslmayr,

Theta and gamma oscillations in the medial temporal lobe are suggested to play a critical role for human memory formation via establishing synchrony in neural assemblies. Arguably, such synchrony facilitates efficient information transfer between neurons and enhances synaptic plasticity, both of which benefit episodic memory formation. However, to date little evidence exists from humans that would provide direct evidence for such a specific role of theta and gamma oscillations for episodic memory formation. Here we investigate how oscillations shape the temporal structure of neural firing during memory formation in the medial temporal lobe. We measured neural firing and local field potentials in human epilepsy patients via micro-wire electrode recordings to analyze whether brain oscillations are related to co-incidences of firing between neurons during successful and unsuccessful encoding of episodic memories. The results show that phase-coupling of neurons to faster theta and gamma oscillations correlates with co-firing at short latencies (~20-30 ms) and occurs during successful memory formation. Phase-coupling at slower oscillations in these same frequency bands, in contrast, correlates with longer co-firing latencies and occurs during memory failure. Thus, our findings suggest that neural oscillations play a role for the synchronization of neural firing in the medial temporal lobe during the encoding of episodic memories.

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