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     MindNet Journal - Vol. 1, No. 62d * [Part 4 of 4 parts]
     V E R I C O M M / MindNet         "Quid veritas est?"

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Assistant Editor: Rick Lawler

Research: Darrell Bross

[Continued from part 3]

51. A positive relationship between the P300 and the
consolidation of memory codes (as a typical hippocampal function)
was demonstrated by some of those studies reporting a Dm-effect.
Several studies have shown that ERPs recorded during the encoding
of words (or pictures) that were later remembered were more
positive than ERPs to words (or pictures) that were not
remembered (Sanquist et al., 1980; Karis et al., 1982, 1984;
Johnson, et al., 1985; Neville et al., 1986; Fabiani et al.,
1986; Paller et al., 1987; Fabiani et al., 1990; Friedman, 1990a,
b; and see also the indirect evidence provided by e.g., Noldy et
al., 1990; and the review in Paller, 1993). This difference in
ERPs during encoding which was found within the region of the
typical P300 or a late positive component was termed "Dm" (for
Difference based on later memory performance; Paller et al.,
1987) or Dm-effect. When reviewing this research it is
interesting to see that particularly the P300 does not reflect
the processing of semantic information (i.e., the encoding of a
stimulus per se) but instead the processing of episodic
information. Results reported by Karis et al. (1984) and Fabiani
et al. (1986, 1990) are in good agreement with this
interpretation. They presented subjects with different series of
words which had to be recalled immediately after a list was
presented and found that words later recalled elicited larger
P300s than words not recalled. In addition, Fabiani et al. (1990)
were able to demonstrate that this relationship between the P300
amplitude and episodic memory performance holds only if subjects
use rote learning (which is based on the encoding of contextual
and thus episodic information) but not if subjects use semantic
encoding strategies (such as organizing the words into meaningful
sentences). Thus, the Dm (with respect to the P300) most likely
reflects episodic encoding processes and as a result, this type
of Dm-effect which is based on the P300 component becomes the
weaker; the more semantic encoding processes predominate.

52. Electrophysiological recordings with electrodes implanted in
the hippocampus have not provided clear evidence for the view
that the P300 is generated in the hippocampus (e.g., Polich &
Squire, 1993; and the literature reviewed in this article).
Because theta is generated in the septum and because other parts
of the limbic system also exhibit theta frequency, the crucial
question is, whether or not it can be demonstrated that theta
activity (or the P300) varies as a function of (episodic) memory
performance and that at the same time the hippocampus is involved
in the modification of theta activity (or the P300).

53. An interesting study by Smith and Halgren (1989) who focused
on the word repetition effect in a recognition task provided
evidence for this view. It is well known that old words (repeated
words) elicit a larger P300 than new words (e.g., Sanquist et
al., 1980; and Johnson et al., 1985). Smith and Halgren (1989)
repeated the targets in the recognition task in each of a set of
nine blocks of 20 words (consisting of 10 targets and 10 new
words) and found that the amplitude difference between repeated
and new words did not change with the number of repetitions
(i.e., the number of blocks). Recognition performance, of course,
increased with the number of blocks, but this increase in
performance was not reflected by the amplitude differences
between the repeated and not repeated words which remained
constant with the number of repetitions. Because these results
were found for normal subjects as well as for patients with
unilateral (left or right) anterior temporal lobectomy, it was
concluded that the hippocampus is not involved in the increase of
recognition performance over different blocks, which can be
explained as an increase in implicit memory performance. Most
important, however, the baseline recognition performance was
significantly lower for the patients with a left temporal
lobectomy who from the very beginning also failed to show a
significant P300 amplitude difference between new and old words.
This latter result is consistent with the hypothesis that the
hippocampus (in the dominant left hemisphere) might be capable of
modifying a P300 that reflects explicit, episodic memory


54. The main purpose of this article is to encourage an
integrative and interdisciplinary view on memory processes. As a
result of this attempt, new experiments can be performed that
will be capable of critically evaluating the proposed hypotheses.
A promising empirical approach would be to analyze event-related
shifts in EEG power within the theta and alpha bands in amnesic
subjects who perform different types of memory tasks.

55. If it is true that oscillations are the mandatory basis for
information transmission in the cortex and possibly in the entire
brain, a better understanding of the nature of oscillations would
be essential for an integrative view in cognitive neuroscience.
For cognitive psychology this finally would mean to describe
cognitive processes in terms of oscillations and for cognitive
psychophysiology this would mean to focus primarily on the
analysis of certain, carefully selected frequency bands in
addition to the study of event-related potentials.


This research was supported by the Austrian "Fonds zur Foerderung
der wissenschaftlichen Forschung", Project S-4904 and Project

I wish to thank Stevan Harnad and anonymous reviewers for their
helpful suggestions. In particular, I am grateful for the
insightful critical comments of Niels Birbaumer on an earlier
draft of this manuscript.


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