September 19, 2012
Science Daily/Sandia National Laboratories
Research at Sandia National Laboratories has shown that it's possible to predict how well people will remember information by monitoring their brain activity while they study.
The team monitored test subjects' brain activity while they studied word lists, then used the EEG to predict who would remember the most information. Because researchers knew the average percentage of correct answers under various conditions, they had a baseline of what brain activity looked like for good and poor memory performance. The computer model predicted five of 23 people tested would perform best. The model was correct: They remembered 72 percent of the words on average, compared to 45 percent for everyone else.
While the imagery group did better overall, they made more mistakes than the other groups when tested on "lures" that were similar, but not the same, as items they had memorized.
"They study things like 'strong adhesive' and 'secret password,' and then I might test them on 'strong password,' which they didn't see, but they saw both parts of it," Matzen said. "The people who have done the imagery training make many more mistakes on the recombinations that keep the same concept. If something kind of fits with their mental image they'll say yes to it even if it's not quite what they saw before."