Post-encoding frontal theta activity predicts incidental memory in the reward context

Min Pu, Rongjun Yu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Memories for daily events require that individuals integrate initial fragile traces of events over time. Recent evidence suggests that reward anticipation enhances memory performance and amplifies frontal theta activity for remembered items vs. forgotten items. However, little is known about how incidental rewards after item presentation retrospectively modulate memory and the neural basis of this processing. Here, we used EEG combined with an incidental memory task to study how incidental reward association biased the post-encoding process. In the anticipatory stage, participants saw photos in win, loss and neutral contexts. Each photo was presented in a color frame that indicated the incentive condition (win vs. loss vs. neutral) and participants were asked to make a binary choice to predict whether the photo was associated with the left/right button. Feedback was presented to indicate arbitrary correctness and monetary outcomes. Recognition memory was tested after a short delay. During the encoding phase, left central-parietal theta power predicted subsequent memory performance in the win context. The post-encoding theta power at right central-frontal and central-parietal sites predicted later memory performance only in the win context. The size of frontal post-encoding related theta activity in the win context was correlated with the discriminate accuracy of the test stimulus. Our results suggest that post-encoding theta activity is closely linked to reward-based associative learning, providing evidence of a potential post-encoding mechanism of information binding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-23
Number of pages10
JournalNeurobiology of Learning and Memory
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

User-Defined Keywords

  • Binding of information
  • Post-encoding
  • Reward learning
  • Subsequent memory effect (SME)
  • Theta activity


Dive into the research topics of 'Post-encoding frontal theta activity predicts incidental memory in the reward context'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this