Modulation of alpha oscillations is required for the suppression of semantic interference

Melnik N., Mapelli I., ÖZKURT T. E.

NEUROBIOLOGY OF LEARNING AND MEMORY, vol.144, pp.11-18, 2017 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 144
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.nlm.2017.05.007
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.11-18
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Recent findings on alpha band oscillations suggest their important role in memory consolidation and suppression of external distractors such as environmental noise. However, less attention was given to the phenomenon of internal distracting information being solely inherent to the stimuli content. Human memory may be prone to internal distractions caused by semantic relatedness between the meaning of words (e.g., atom, neutron, nucleus, etc.) to be encoded, i.e., semantic interference. Our study investigates the brain oscillatory dynamics behind the semantic interference phenomenon, whose possible outcome is known as false memories. In this direction, Deese-Roediger-McDermott word lists were appropriated for a modified Sternberg paradigm in auditory modality. Participants received semantically related and unrelated word lists via headphones while EEG data were acquired. Semantic interference triggered the false memory rates to be higher than those of other types of memory errors. Analysis demonstrated that the upper part of alpha band (-10-12 Hz) power decreases on parieto-occipital channels in the retention interval, prior to the probe item for semantically related condition. Our study elucidates the oscillatory mechanisms behind semantic interference by relying on alpha functional inhibition theory. (C) 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.