We examined two subjectively distinct memory states that are elicited during recognition memory in humans and compared them in terms of the gamma oscillations (20–60 Hz) in the electroencepahalogram (EEG) that they induced. These subjective states, ‘recollection’ and ‘familiarity’ both entail correct recognition but one involves a clear and conscious recollection of the event including memory for contextual detail whilst the other involves a sense of familiarity without clear recollection. Here we show that during a verbal recognition memory test, the subjective experience of ‘recollection’ induced higher amplitude gamma oscillations than the subjective experience of ‘familiarity’ in the time period 300–500 ms after stimulus presentation. Recollection, but not familiarity, was also associated with greater functional connectivity in the gamma frequency range between frontal and parietal sites. Furthermore, the magnitude of the gamma functional connectivity varied over time and was modulated at 3 Hz. Previous studies in animals have shown local theta frequency modulation (3–7 Hz) of gamma-oscillations but this is the first time that a similar effect has been reported in the human EEG.
- gamma oscillations