Readiness of Brain Influences Recall Emerging research suggests your brain state can influence memory. That is, there may be specific times when your brain is more responsive for memory recall.

“It’s been assumed that the process of retrieving a memory is cued by an external stimulus,” said Charan Ranganath, Ph.D., of the University of California, Davis. “But we found that the levels of brain activity before items came up were correlated with memory.”

Researchers measured a particular frequency of brainwaves called theta oscillations in the brains of volunteers during a memory test. Theta waves are associated with a brain that is actively monitoring something, Ranganath said.

In the memory test, the volunteers had to memorize a series of words with a related context. They later had to recall whether they had seen the word previously and the context in which the word was seen.

High theta waves immediately before being prompted to remember an item were associated with better performance.

The work goes against the assumption that the brain is waiting to react to the external world, Ranganath said.

In fact, most of the brain is busy with internal activity that is not related to the outside world — when external stimuli come in, they interact with these spontaneous patterns of activity.

Researchers do not know if an individual can actively prompt their brain to be more responsive for memory recall.

Ranganath said his laboratory is currently investigating that area with the hope that it might lead to better treatments for memory loss.

Source: University of California, Davis