“Scans of brain activity, published online in the journal Nature Neuroscience, indicate that the brain can actually get into the ‘right frame of mind’ to store new information and that we perform at our best if the brain is active not only at the moment we get new information but also in the seconds before.
Tests showed that the brain’s electrical activity differed after the cue question and before the word was presented and this was linked to whether the subject would remember or forget the word in a later unexpected memory test. If the electrical activity maintained a high level over frontal parts of the scalp just before the word was shown, then it was likely that the subject would remember the word up to 50 minutes later – and after doing a series of other word tests. On the other hand, if the voltage was lower, the subjects were less likely to remember the word.”
(from the press release)
Leun J. Otten, Richard N. A. Henson & Michael D. Rugg. State-related and item-related neural correlates of successful memory encoding. Nature Neuroscience 5, 1339 – 1344 (2002). Published online: 28 October 2002; doi:10.1038/nn967