Recent EEG studies have shown that implicit learning involving specific cortical circuits results in an enduring local trace manifested as local changes in spectral power. Here we used a well characterized visual sequence learning task and high density-(hd-)EEG recording to determine whether also declarative learning leaves a post-task, local change in the resting state oscillatory activity in the areas involved in the learning process. Thus, we recorded hd-EEG in normal subjects before, during and after the acquisition of the order of a fixed spatial target sequence (VSEQ) and during the presentation of targets in random order (VRAN). We first determined the temporal evolution of spectral changes during VSEQ and compared it to VRAN. We found significant differences in the alpha and theta bands in three main scalp regions, a right occipito-parietal (ROP), an anterior-frontal (AFr), and a right frontal (RFr) area. The changes in frontal theta power during VSEQ were positively correlated with the learning rate. Further, post-learning EEG recordings during resting state revealed a significant increase in alpha power in ROP relative to a pre-learning baseline. We conclude that declarative learning is associated with alpha and theta changes in frontal and posterior regions that occur during the task, and with an increase of alpha power in the occipito-parietal region after the task. These post-task changes may represent a trace of learning and a hallmark of use-dependent plasticity.
Moisello, C., Meziane, H. B., Kelly, S., Perfetti, B., Kvint, S., Voutsinas, N. . . . Ghilardi, M. F. (2013). Neural Activations during Visual Sequence Learning Leave a Trace in Post-Training Spontaneous EEG. PLoS ONE, 8(6), e65882. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0065882