Neural fatigue influences memory encoding in the human hippocampus

Lynn J. Lohnas, Lila Davachi, Michael J. Kahana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Here we examine the variability underlying successful memory encoding. Successful encoding of successive study items may fatigue encoding resources, thus decreasing the ability to encode subsequent items (Tulving and Rosenbaum, 2006); alternatively, successful encoding may be persistent, leading to more successful encoding (Kahana, Aggarwal, and Phan, 2018). Analyzing intracranial electroencephalographic activity while subjects studied lists of words for subsequent free recall, we examined high-frequency activity (HFA) in hippocampus and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), as HFA was greater for subsequently recalled than non-recalled items in these regions. We compared non-recalled items with good encoding history (i.e. one of the two preceding items was recalled) with non-recalled items with poor encoding history (i.e. neither prior item was recalled). In the hippocampus, good encoding history led to reduced HFA, whereas in the DLPFC, good encoding history led to enhanced HFA. Hippocampal findings appear consistent with the neural fatigue hypothesis, whereas the DLPFC results appear consistent with persistent encoding states.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number107471
StatePublished - Jun 2020


  • Encoding
  • Episodic memory
  • Memory
  • Temporal lobe
  • iEEG

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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