Generating words according to a given rule relies on retrieval-related search and postretrieval control processes. Using fMRI, we recently characterized neural patterns of word generation in response to episodic, semantic, and phonemic cues by comparing free recall of wordlists, category fluency, and letter fluency [Shapira-Lichter, I., Oren, N., Jacob, Y., Gruberger, M., & Hendler, T. Portraying the unique contribution of the default mode network to internally driven mnemonic processes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A., 110, 4950–4955, 2013]. Distinct selectivity for each condition was evident, representing discrete aspects of word generation-related memory retrieval. For example, the precuneus, implicated in processing spatiotemporal information, emerged as a key contributor to the episodic condition, which uniquely requires this information. Gamma band is known to play a central role in memory, and increased gamma power has been observed before word generation. Yet, gamma modulation in response to task demands has not been investigated. To capture the task-specific modulation of gamma power, we analyzed the EEG data recorded simultaneously with the aforementioned fMRI, focusing on the activity locked to and immediately preceding word articulation. Transient increases in gamma power were identified in a parietal electrode immediately before episodic and semantic word generation, however, within a different time frame relative to articulation. Gamma increases were followed by an alpha-theta decrease in the episodic condition, a gamma decrease in the semantic condition. This pattern indicates a task-specific modulation of the gamma signal corresponding to the specific demands of each word generation task. The gamma power and fMRI signal from the precuneus were correlated during the episodic condition, implying the existence of a common cognitive construct uniquely required for this task, possibly the reactivation or processing of spatiotemporal information.

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