Neural correlates of visuo-tactile crossmodal paired-associate learning and memory in humans

Peng Gui, Yixuan Ku, Lei Li, Xiaojin Li, Mark Bodner, Fred A. Lenz, Liping Wang, Yong Di Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Studies have indicated that a cortical sensory system is capable of processing information from different sensory modalities. However, it still remains unclear when and how a cortical system integrates and retains information across sensory modalities during learning. Here we investigated the neural dynamics underlying crossmodal associations and memory by recording event-related potentials (ERPs) when human participants performed visuo-tactile (crossmodal) and visuo-visual (unimodal) paired-associate (PA) learning tasks. In a trial of the tasks, the participants were required to explore and learn the relationship (paired or non-paired) between two successive stimuli. EEG recordings revealed dynamic ERP changes during participants’ learning of paired-associations. Specifically, (1) the frontal N400 component showed learning-related changes in both unimodal and crossmodal tasks but did not show any significant difference between these two tasks, while the central P400 displayed both learning changes and task differences; (2) a late posterior negative slow wave (LPN) showed the learning effect only in the crossmodal task; (3) alpha-band oscillations appeared to be involved in crossmodal working memory. Additional behavioral experiments suggested that these ERP components were not relevant to the participants’ familiarity with stimuli per se. Further, by shortening the delay length (from 1300 ms to 400 ms or 200 ms) between the first and second stimulus in the crossmodal task, declines in participants’ task performance were observed accordingly. Taken together, these results provide insights into the cortical plasticity (induced by PA learning) of neural networks involved in crossmodal associations in working memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-195
Number of pages15
StatePublished - Oct 24 2017


  • ERP
  • crossmodal
  • paired-associate learning
  • visuo-tactile
  • working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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