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Journal Article

Lingering sound: Event-related phase-amplitude coupling and phase-locking in fronto-temporo-parietal functional networks during memory retrieval of music melodies


Chien,  Vincent S. C.
Institute of Statistical Science, Academia Sinica, Taipei City, Taiwan;
Methods and Development Group MEG and Cortical Networks, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Tseng, Y.-L., Liu, H.-H., Liou, M., Tsai, A. C., Chien, V. S. C., Shyu, S.-T., et al. (2019). Lingering sound: Event-related phase-amplitude coupling and phase-locking in fronto-temporo-parietal functional networks during memory retrieval of music melodies. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 13: 150. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2019.00150.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0003-BCB9-9
Brain oscillations and connectivity have emerged as promising measures of evaluating memory processes, including encoding, maintenance, and retrieval, as well as the related executive function. Although many studies have addressed the neural mechanisms underlying working memory, most of these studies have focused on the visual modality. Neurodynamics and functional connectivity related to auditory working memory are yet to be established. In this study, we explored the dynamic of high density (128-channel) electroencephalography (EEG) in a musical delayed match-to-sample task (DMST), in which 36 participants were recruited and were instructed to recognize and distinguish the target melodies from similar distractors. Event-related spectral perturbations (ERSPs), event-related phase-amplitude couplings (ERPACs), and phase-locking values (PLVs) were used to determine the corresponding brain oscillations and connectivity. First, we observed that low-frequency oscillations in the frontal, temporal, and parietal regions were increased during the processing of both target and distracting melodies. Second, the cross-frequency coupling between low-frequency phases and high-frequency amplitudes was elevated in the frontal and parietal regions when the participants were distinguishing between the target from distractor, suggesting that the phase-amplitude coupling could be an indicator of neural mechanisms underlying memory retrieval. Finally, phase-locking, an index evaluating brain functional connectivity, revealed that there was fronto-temporal phase-locking in the theta band and fronto-parietal phase-locking in the alpha band during the recognition of the two stimuli. These findings suggest the existence of functional connectivity and the phase-amplitude coupling in the neocortex during musical memory retrieval, and provide a highly resolved timeline to evaluate brain dynamics. Furthermore, the inter-regional phase-locking and phase-amplitude coupling among the frontal, temporal and parietal regions occurred at the very beginning of musical memory retrieval, which might reflect the precise timing when cognitive resources were involved in the retrieval of targets and the rejection of similar distractors. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first EEG study employing a naturalistic task to study auditory memory processes and functional connectivity during memory retrieval, results of which can shed light on the use of natural stimuli in studies that are closer to the real-life applications of cognitive evaluations, mental treatments, and brain-computer interface.