Encoding of physics concepts: Concreteness and presentation modality reflected by human brain dynamics

Kevin Lai, Hsiao-Ching She*, Sheng-Chang Chen, Wen Chi Chou, Li Yu Huang, Tzyy Ping Jung, Klaus Gramann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Previous research into working memory has focused on activations in different brain areas accompanying either different presentation modalities (verbal vs. non-verbal) or concreteness (abstract vs. concrete) of non-science concepts. Less research has been conducted investigating how scientific concepts are learned and further processed in working memory. To bridge this gap, the present study investigated human brain dynamics associated with encoding of physics concepts, taking both presentation modality and concreteness into account. Results of this study revealed greater theta and low-beta synchronization in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) during encoding of concrete pictures as compared to the encoding of both high and low imageable words. In visual brain areas, greater theta activity accompanying stimulus onsets was observed for words as compared to pictures while stronger alpha suppression was observed in responses to pictures as compared to words. In general, the EEG oscillation patterns for encoding words of different levels of abstractness were comparable but differed significantly from encoding of pictures. These results provide insights into the effects of modality of presentation on human encoding of scientific concepts and thus might help in developing new ways to better teach scientific concepts in class.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere41784
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number7
StatePublished - 27 Jul 2012


Dive into the research topics of 'Encoding of physics concepts: Concreteness and presentation modality reflected by human brain dynamics'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this