We know that most learning results in forgetting. So being able to identify when someone is in the right state to remember has a big payoff in learning. Huge amounts of wasted time can be eliminated and actual learning time increased. Research in this area has centred around psychological attention. Without it, we don’t learn.
But imagine being able to predict whether you’ll remember something or not. Researchers at University College, London have found a signature in the brain that occurs just prior to memory formation. It’s not in the hippocampus but in the medial temporal lobe. A magnetoencephalograph was used to measure this activity that acts like a switch for memory. If it’s on - you remember, off – you forget. It’s like a traffic light for memory formation.
Others, in Wired magazine, have speculated that, eventually, one could have an application on the likes of an iPHONE, that could show whether you’re focused enough to remember. Biofeedback training is another possibility, allowing learners to prepare to learn.
"Medial temporal theta state before an event predicts episodic encoding success in humans." By Sebastian Guderian, Bjorn H. Schott, Alan Richardson-Klavehn and Emrah Duzel. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 106, No. 11, March 16, 2009.