Multifaceted roles for low-frequency oscillations in bottom-up and top-down processing during navigation and memory

Arne D. Ekstrom, Andrew J. Watrous

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


A prominent and replicated finding is the correlation between running speed and increases in low-frequency oscillatory activity in the hippocampal local field potential. A more recent finding concerns low-frequency oscillations that increase in coherence between the hippocampus and neocortical brain areas such as prefrontal cortex during memory-related behaviors (i.e., remembering the correct location to visit). In this review, we tie together movement-related and memory-related low-frequency oscillations in the rodent with similar findings in humans. We argue that although movement-related low-frequency oscillations, in particular, may have slightly different characteristics in humans than rodents, placing important constraints on our thinking about this issue, both phenomena have similar functional foundations. We review four prominent theoretical models that provide partially conflicting accounts of movement-related low-frequency oscillations. We attempt to tie together these theoretical proposals, and existing data in rodents and humans, with memory-related low-frequency oscillations. We propose that movement-related low-frequency oscillations and memory-related low-frequency oscillatory activity, both of which show significant coherence with oscillations in other brain regions, represent different facets of "spectral fingerprints," or different resonant frequencies within the same brain networks underlying different cognitive processes. Together, movement-related and memory-related low-frequency oscillatory coupling may be linked by their distinct contributions to bottom-up, sensorimotor driven processing and top-down, controlled processing characterizing aspects of memory encoding and retrieval.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)667-677
Number of pages11
StatePublished - Jan 15 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Delta
  • Hippocampus
  • Spatial navigation
  • Theta

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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