EEG-power and -coherence changes in a unimodal and a crossmodal working memory task with visual and kinesthetic stimuli

A Seemüller, E M Müller, F Rösler
International Journal of Psychophysiology 2012, 83 (1): 87-95
We investigated EEG-power and EEG-coherence changes in a unimodal and a crossmodal matching-to-sample working memory task with either visual or kinesthetic stimuli. Angle-shaped trajectories were used as stimuli presented either as a moving dot on a screen or as a passive movement of a haptic device. Effects were evaluated during the different phases of encoding, maintenance, and recognition. Alpha power was modulated during encoding by the stimulus modality, and in crossmodal conditions during encoding and maintenance by the expected modality of the upcoming test stimulus. These power modulations were observed over modality-specific cortex regions. Systematic changes of coherence for crossmodal compared to unimodal tasks were not observed during encoding and maintenance but only during recognition. There, coherence in the theta-band increased between electrode sites over left central and occipital cortex areas in the crossmodal compared to the unimodal conditions. The results underline the importance of modality-specific representations and processes in unimodal and crossmodal working memory tasks. Crossmodal recognition of visually and kinesthetically presented object features seems to be related to a direct interaction of somatosensory/motor and visual cortex regions by means of long-range synchronization in the theta-band and such interactions seem to take place at the beginning of the recognition phase, i.e. when crossmodal transfer is actually necessary.

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