Auditory beats are composed of two sine waves using nearby frequencies, which can either be applied as a superposed signal to both ears or to each ear separately. In the first case, the beat sensation results from hearing an amplitude-modulated signal (monaural beat). In the second case, it is generated by phase-sensitive neurons in the brain stem (binaural beat). We investigated the effects of monaural and binaural 5 Hz beat stimulation on neural activity and memory performance in neurosurgical patients performing an associative recognition task. Previously, we had reported that these beat stimulation conditions modulated memory performance in opposite directions. Here, we analyzed data from a patient subgroup, in which microwires were implanted in the amygdala, hippocampus, entorhinal cortex and parahippocampal cortex. We identified neurons responding with firing rate changes to binaural versus monaural 5 Hz beat stimulation. In these neurons, we correlated the differences in firing rates for binaural versus monaural beats to the memory-related differences for remembered versus forgotten items and associations. In the left hemisphere for these neurons, we detected statistically significant negative correlations between firing rate differences for binaural versus monaural beats and remembered versus forgotten items/associations. Importantly, such negative correlations were also observed between beat stimulation-related firing rate differences in the baseline window and memory-related firing rate differences in the poststimulus windows. In line with concepts of homeostatic plasticity, we interpret our findings as indicating that beat stimulation is linked to memory performance via shifting baseline firing levels.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience