The gamma band effect for episodic memory encoding is absent in epileptogenic hippocampi

Bradley Lega, Sasha Dionisio, William Bingaman, Imad Najm, Jorge Gonzalez-Martinez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Objective: The analysis of hippocampal local field potentials in humans during the encoding of episodic memories has revealed that a robust increase in gamma band oscillatory power predicts successful item encoding, termed the gamma band subsequent memory effect (SME). No previous investigation has looked for differences in this pattern between epileptogenic and non-epileptogenic sources; we sought to examine the gamma band effect in seizure patients to address this question. Methods: We recorded hippocampal activity in nine patients who underwent stereoelectroencephalography for seizure localization and also performed the Free Recall task, a standard test of episodic memory. We compared gamma band oscillatory activity between 15 electrodes localized to epileptogenic hippocampi and 24 electrodes in non-epileptogenic hippocampi. Results: The epileptogenic hippocampi exhibited a significant decrease in gamma band power during successful item encoding, whereas the non-epileptogenic group exhibited the expected positive gamma band effect (t(37) = 4.69, p < 0.0001). Conclusions: The typical gamma band effect is reversed for epileptogenic hippocampi. Significance: This is the first study to demonstrate a difference for epileptogenic hippocampi for an important oscillatory pattern that normally predicts successful item encoding. Patients with epilepsy suffer selective impairment of episodic memory ability, so our findings are especially relevant for clinicians and memory researchers alike.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)866-872
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2015


  • Epilepsy
  • Episodic memory
  • Gamma oscillations
  • Hippocampus
  • Subsequent memory effect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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