Pathological Slow-Wave Activity and Impaired Working Memory Binding in Post-Traumatic Amnesia

Emma Jane Mallas, Nikos Gorgoraptis, Sophie Dautricourt, Yoni Pertzov, Gregory Scott*, David J. Sharp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Associative binding is key to normal memory function and is transiently disrupted during periods of post-traumatic amnesia (PTA) following traumatic brain injury (TBI). Electrophysiological abnormalities, including low-frequency activity, are common following TBI. Here, we investigate associative memory binding during PTA and test the hypothesis that misbinding is caused by pathological slowing of brain activity disrupting cortical communication. Thirty acute moderate to severe TBI patients (25 males; 5 females) and 26 healthy controls (20 males; 6 females) were tested with a precision working memory paradigm requiring the association of object and location information. Electrophysiological effects of TBI were assessed using resting-state EEG in a subsample of 17 patients and 21 controls. PTA patients showed abnormalities in working memory function and made significantly more misbinding errors than patients who were not in PTA and controls. The distribution of localization responses was abnormally biased by the locations of nontarget items for patients in PTA, suggesting a specific impairment of object and location binding. Slow-wave activity was increased following TBI. Increases in the d-a ratio indicative of an increase in low-frequency power specifically correlated with binding impairment in working memory. Connectivity changes in TBI did not correlate with binding impairment. Working memory and electrophysiological abnormalities normalized at 6 month follow-up. These results show that patients in PTA show high rates of misbinding that are associated with a pathological shift toward lower-frequency oscillations.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)9193-9210
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number49
StatePublished - 7 Dec 2022

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  • EEG
  • associative memory
  • binding
  • post-traumatic amnesia
  • traumatic brain injury
  • working memory


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