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Differential processing of immediately repeated verbal and non-verbal stimuli: an evoked-potential study

Published inEuropean journal of neuroscience, vol. 43, no. 1, p. 89-97
Publication date2016
Abstract

Stimuli are better retained in memory if they are repeated after a delay than if they are immediately repeated. This effect is called the spacing effect. Recent EEG studies showed that delayed repetition of meaningful designs in a continuous recognition task induces an evoked response very similar to new presentations. In contrast, immediately repeated designs induced circumscribed, stronger activation of the left medial temporal lobe (MTL) at 200-300ms. In amnesic subjects, this signal was missing, indicating that it has a memory-protective effect. Here, we used high-density EEG in humans to explore whether meaningless verbal (non-words) and non-verbal (meaningless geometric designs) stimuli also have a spacing effect associated with such lateralized, temporally limited activation of the left MTL upon immediate repetition. Our results revealed a spacing effect for both materials. Timing and localization of brain activity differed as a function of stimulus material. Specific responses to immediate repetitions occurred at 200-285ms for non-verbal stimuli and at 285-380ms for verbal material. Source estimations revealed increased activity in right inferior frontal areas for immediate non-verbal repetitions and in left fronto-parietal areas for immediate verbal repetition in comparison to new presentations. These findings show that, while the spacing effect is a ubiquitous phenomenon, the neural processes underlying it vary according to the type of stimulus material. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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MANUEL, Aurélie, SCHNIDER, Armin. Differential processing of immediately repeated verbal and non-verbal stimuli: an evoked-potential study. In: European journal of neuroscience, 2016, vol. 43, n° 1, p. 89–97. doi: 10.1111/ejn.13114
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ISSN of the journal0953-816X
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