Although we can store theoretically infinite amount of visual information in our visual long-term memory (VLTM), our ability to encode new information to VLTM fluctuates from moment to moment. Sometimes, new information slides into our VLTM without much effort or even against our will to not encode (e.g., a scary scene of a horror movie) , but in other times, new information does not get encoded no matter how hard we try (e.g., cramming for a final exam). This sucks!! Is there any way to monitor this fluctuation in real-time and intervene the memory failures?
Our recent study (Fukuda & Woodman, 2015) demonstrated that “Yes, there is!” More precisely, we showed that by measuring multiple brainwave (EEG) indices of the quality of memory encoding while individuals encode new visual information, we can monitor the moment-to-moment fluctuation of the quality of memory encoding, and select study materials that benefit more from restudy opportunities. Considering how affordable brainwave measurement is especially compared to other neural measurements, we may one day wear EEG caps in classrooms to track and enhance our study quality! We are currently working on generalizing this exciting finding to other types of memory encoding, so stay tuned!