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Sauseng, Paul; Peylo, Charline; Biel, Anna Lena; Friedrich, Elisabeth V. C.; Romberg-Taylor, Carola ORCID: 0000-0002-4379-3579 (May 2019): Does cross-frequency phase coupling of oscillatory brain activity contribute to a better understanding of visual working memory? In: British Journal of Psychology, Vol. 110, No. 2: pp. 245-255
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Nesting of fast rhythmical brain activity (gamma) into slower brain waves (theta) has frequently been suggested as a core mechanism of multi-item working memory (WM) retention. It provides a better understanding of WM capacity limitations, and, as we discuss in this review article, it can lead to applications for modulating memory capacity. However, could cross-frequency coupling of brain oscillations also constructively contribute to a better understanding of the neuronal signatures of working memory compatible with theoretical approaches that assume flexible capacity limits? Could a theta-gamma code also be considered as a neural mechanism of flexible sharing of cognitive resources between memory representations in multi-item WM? Here, we propose potential variants of theta-gamma coupling that could explain WM retention beyond a fixed memory capacity limit of a few visual items. Moreover, we suggest how to empirically test these predictions in the future.