The critical role of phase difference in gamma oscillation within the temporoparietal network for binding visual working memory

Philip Tseng, Yu Ting Chang, Chi Fu Chang, Wei Kuang Liang, Chi Hung Juan

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22 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

How does the brain enable us to remember two or more object representations in visual working memory (VWM) without confusing them? This "gluing" process, or feature binding, refers to the ability to join certain features together while keeping them segregated from others. Recent neuroimaging research has reported higher BOLD response in the left temporal and parietal cortex during a binding-VWM task. However, less is known about how the two regions work in synchrony to support such process. In this study, we applied transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) over the left temporal and parietal cortex in gamma and theta frequency, with a phase difference of either 0° (in-phase) or 180° (anti-phase) to account for the different ways through which neural synchronization may occur. We found no facilitatory or inhibitory effect from sham, theta, and in-phase gamma stimulation. Importantly, there was an enhancement effect from anti-phase gamma tACS that was binding-specific, and such effect was only apparent in low-performing individuals who had room for improvement. Together, these results demonstrate that binding-VWM is supported by a temporally-precise oscillatory mechanism within the gamma frequency range, and that the advantageous 180°-apart phase relationship also implies a possible temporal driver-to-receiver time-lag between the temporal and parietal cortex.

Original languageEnglish
Article number32138
Number of pages15
JournalScientific Reports
Volume6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 30 2016

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