Abstract

Kopp, F., Schröger, E., & Lipka, S. (2006). Synchronized brain activity during rehearsal and short-term memory disruption by irrelevant speech is affected by recall mode. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 61(2), 188-203.

Synchronized brain activity during rehearsal and short-term memory disruption by irrelevant speech is affected by recall mode

EEG coherence as a measure of synchronization of brain activity was used to investigate effects of irrelevant speech. In a delayed serial recall paradigm 21 healthy participants retained verbal items over a 10-s delay with and without interfering irrelevant speech. Recall after the delay was varied in two modes (spoken vs. written). Behavioral data showed the classic irrelevant speech effect and a superiority of written over spoken recall mode. Coherence, however, was more sensitive to processing characteristics and showed interactions between the irrelevant speech effect and recall mode during the rehearsal delay in theta (4-7.5 Hz), alpha (8-12 Hz), beta (13-20 Hz), and gamma (35-47 Hz) frequency bands. For gamma, a rehearsal-related decrease of the duration of high coherence due to presentation of irrelevant speech was found in a left-lateralized fronto-central and centro-temporal network only in spoken but not in written recall. In theta, coherence at predominantly fronto-parietal electrode combinations was indicative for memory demands and varied with individual working memory capacity assessed by digit span. Alpha coherence revealed similar results and patterns as theta coherence. In beta, a left-hemispheric network showed longer high synchronizations due to irrelevant speech only in written recall mode. EEG results suggest that mode of recall is critical for processing already during the retention period of a delayed serial recall task. Moreover, the finding that different networks are engaged with different recall modes shows that the disrupting effect of irrelevant speech is not a unitary mechanism.



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