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Berger, Barbara; Griesmayr, Birgit; Minarik, Tamas; Biel, Anna Lena; Pinal, D.; Sterr, A.; Sauseng, Paul (18. September 2019): Dynamic regulation of interregional cortical communication by slow brain oscillations during working memory. In: Nature Communications, Vol. 10, 4242: pp. 1-11
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Abstract

Transiently storing information and mentally manipulating it is known as working memory. These operations are implemented by a distributed, fronto-parietal cognitive control network in the brain. The neural mechanisms controlling interactions within this network are yet to be determined. Here, we show that during a working memory task the brain uses an oscillatory mechanism for regulating access to prefrontal cognitive resources, dynamically controlling interactions between prefrontal cortex and remote neocortical areas. Combining EEG with non-invasive brain stimulation we show that fast rhythmical brain activity at posterior sites are nested into prefrontal slow brain waves. Depending on cognitive demand this high frequency activity is nested into different phases of the slow wave enabling dynamic coupling or de-coupling of the fronto-parietal control network adjusted to cognitive effort. This mechanism constitutes a basic principle of coordinating higher cognitive functions in the human brain.