Theta and alpha band oscillations during value-directed strategic processing

Lydia T. Nguyen, Francesco Marini, Lidia Zacharczuk, Daniel A. Llano, Raksha A. Mudar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Strategic processing allows for value-based preferential encoding of information. Event-related spectral perturbations can provide insights into neural processes linked to the different aspects of strategic processing. This study examined theta and alpha band power differences linked to processing of high- versus low-value information. Thirty-three young adults (17 F; mean age: 21.2 ± 1.5 years) completed a value-directed word list learning task. The task consisted of five word lists that each contained a unique set of high- and low-value words that were visually presented one at a time and EEG corresponding to these words were examined. To encourage strategic processing, participants were informed that after each list they would be asked to recall as many words as possible with their goal being to maximize their score. Overall, participants recalled more high-value words for each of the five lists as compared to low-value words, which supports that participants engaged in strategic processing. Frontal theta band power showed greater positivity during processing of low- compared to high-value words, whereas parietal alpha band power showed greater negativity during processing of high- compared to low-value words. These findings suggest that theta and alpha bands index different aspects of strategic processing, namely inhibition and selective attention, and have future applications for understanding the effects of aging and brain diseases/disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)210-214
Number of pages5
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
StatePublished - Jul 23 2019


  • Alpha
  • EEG
  • Event-related spectral perturbations
  • Strategic processing
  • Theta

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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