Frontal steady-state potential changes predict long-term recognition memory performance

Converging evidence from event-related potential and functional brain imaging studies suggests that the brain activity at posterior regions of the frontal cortex can predict the strength of long-term memory traces. This study examined the relationship between posterior frontal steady-state visually evoked potential (SSVEP) latency changes and recognition memory after a delay of 7 days. Thirty-five female subjects viewed an 18-min television documentary program interspersed with 12 unfamiliar television advertisements while brain electrical activity was recorded from four pre-frontal, two posterior frontal and two occipital scalp sites. After 7 days, the recognition memory was tested for images coinciding with the 20 most prominent frontal SSVEP latency minima and maxima during the viewing of ten contiguous advertisements (advertisements 2-11). We found that images coinciding with posterior frontal latency minima were more likely to be recognized (58.7% recognition) than images coinciding with SSVEP latency maxima (45.3% recognition). Furthermore, the relationship between posterior frontal SSVEP latency and recognition performance after 7 days was only apparent at the left posterior frontal site. The correlation between the recognition performance and SSVEP latency evaluated at all eight sites reached significance only at the left posterior frontal site. These findings suggest that frontal SSVEP latency variations can be used to assess the strength of long-term memory encoding for naturalistic stimuli.

Keywords: Recognition memory; Long-term memory; Steady-state visually evoked potential SSVEP.; Pre-frontal cortex; Steady-state probe topography SSPT.

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