Common oscillatory mechanisms across multiple memory systems

Drew B. Headley, Denis Paré

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


The cortex, hippocampus, and striatum support dissociable forms of memory. While each of these regions contains specialized circuitry supporting their respective functions, all structure their activities across time with delta, theta, and gamma rhythms. We review how these oscillations are generated and how they coordinate distinct memory systems during encoding, consolidation, and retrieval. First, gamma oscillations occur in all regions and coordinate local spiking, compressing it into short population bursts. Second, gamma oscillations are modulated by delta and theta oscillations. Third, oscillatory dynamics in these memory systems can operate in either a “slow” or “fast” mode. The slow mode happens during slow-wave sleep and is characterized by large irregular activity in the hippocampus and delta oscillations in cortical and striatal circuits. The fast mode occurs during active waking and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and is characterized by theta oscillations in the hippocampus and its targets, along with gamma oscillations in the rest of cortex. In waking, the fast mode is associated with the efficacious encoding and retrieval of declarative and procedural memories. Theta and gamma oscillations have similar relationships with encoding and retrieval across multiple forms of memory and brain regions, despite regional differences in microcircuitry and information content. Differences in the oscillatory coordination of memory systems during sleep might explain why the consolidation of some forms of memory is sensitive to slow-wave sleep, while others depend on REM. In particular, theta oscillations appear to support the consolidation of certain types of procedural memories during REM, while delta oscillations during slow-wave sleep seem to promote declarative and procedural memories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1
Journalnpj Science of Learning
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Developmental Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Common oscillatory mechanisms across multiple memory systems'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this