How the brain combines the neural representations of features that comprise an object in order to activate a coherent object memory is poorly understood, especially when the features are presented in different modalities (visual vs. auditory) and domains (verbal vs. nonverbal). We examined this question using three versions of a modified Semantic Object Retrieval Test, where object memory was probed by a feature presented as a written word, a spoken word, or a picture, followed by a second feature always presented as a visual word. Participants indicated whether each feature pair elicited retrieval of the memory of a particular object. Sixteen subjects completed one of the three versions (N = 48 in total) while their EEG were recorded simultaneously. We analyzed EEG data in four separate frequency bands (delta: 1–4 Hz, theta: 4–7 Hz; alpha: 8–12 Hz; beta: 13–19 Hz) using a multivariate data-driven approach. We found that alpha power time-locked to response was modulated by both cross-modality (visual vs. auditory) and cross-domain (verbal vs. nonverbal) probing of semantic object memory. In addition, retrieval trials showed greater changes in all frequency bands compared to non-retrieval trials across all stimulus types in both response-locked and stimulus-locked analyses, suggesting dissociable neural subcomponents involved in binding object features to retrieve a memory. We conclude that these findings support both modality/domain-dependent and modality/domain-independent mechanisms during semantic object memory retrieval.
- Memory retrieval
- Neural oscillations
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Physiology (medical)