Searching for memory in brain waves – The synchronization/desynchronization Conundrum

Brain oscillations have been proposed to be one of the core mechanisms underlying episodic memory. But how do they operate in the service of memory? Reviewing the literature a conundrum emerges as some studies highlight the role of synchronized oscillatory activity, whereas others highlight the role of desynchronized activity.

In this talk I will describe a framework that potentially resolves this conundrum and integrate these two opposing oscillatory behaviours. I will present results from studies using different techniques  to study oscillations (i.e. from EEG/MEG, EEG-fMRI, to human single unit and LFP recordings) and argue, based on these findings, that the synchronization and desynchronization reflect a division of labour between a hippocampal and a neocortical system, respectively. Specifically, whereas desynchronization is key for the neocortex to represent information, synchronization in the hippocampus is key to bind information. This novel oscillatory framework integrates synchronization and desynchronization mechanisms in order to explain how the two systems (i.e. neocortex and hippocampus) interact in the service of episodic memory. Finally, I will discuss open questions, specific predictions and challenges that follow from this framework.

Go to Editor View