Investigations using hippocampal slices maintained in vitro have demonstrated that bursts of oscillatory field potentials in the gamma frequency range (30-80 Hz) are followed by a slower oscillation in the beta 1 range (12-20 Hz). In this study, we demonstrate that a comparable gamma-to- beta transition is seen in the human electroencephalogram (EEG) in response to novel auditory stimuli. Correlations between gamma and beta I activity revealed a high degree of interdependence of synchronized oscillations in these bands in the human EEG. Evoked (stimulus-locked) gamma oscillations preceded beta I oscillations in response to novel stimuli, suggesting that this may be analogous to the gamma-to-beta shift observed in vitro. Beta 1 oscillations were the earliest discriminatory responses to show enhancement to novel stimuli, preceding changes in the broad-band event-related potential (mismatch negativity). Later peaks of induced beta activity over the parietal cortex were always accompanied by an underlying gamma frequency oscillation as seen in vitro. A further analogy between in vitro and human recordings was that both gamma and beta oscillations habituated markedly after the initial novel stimulus presentation.