Monitoring The Brain To Evaluate Learning
Scientists are monitoring brain activity to help predict how well someone will perform on a test they have been studying for, and how to better improve study habits, writes Lee Rannals on redOrbit.com:
“Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have shown it is possible to predict how well people will remember information. The team demonstrated predictions based on the results of monitoring test volunteers with electroencephalography (EEG) sensors.
Laura Matzen of Sandia’s cognitive systems group said: ‘If you had someone learning new material and you were recording the EEG, you might be able to tell them, “You’re going to forget this, you should study this again,” or tell them, “OK, you got it and go on to the next thing.”‘
Matzen and her team monitored test subjects’ brain activity while they studied word lists, and they used the EEG to predict who would remember the most information.
The team had a baseline of what brain activity looked like for good and poor memory performance, because they already knew average percentage of correct answers under various conditions.
The computer model predicted five of 23 people tested would perform best, and the team said the model was correct. Those people remembered 72 percent of the words on average, compared to 45 percent for everyone else.
Ultimately, the study is part of Matzen’s long-term goal to understand the Difference Related to Subsequent Memory, or Dem Effect, which is an index of brain activity encoding that distinguishes subsequently remembered from subsequently forgotten items.
Matzen is interested in what causes the effect, and what can change it, with hopes that her research will eventually lead to improvements in how students learn. She said she hopes to discover how training helps people performing at different levels and whether particular training works better for certain types of people.” Read more here.
No takeaways from this research yet, but it’s fascinating to consider the notion that scientists may one day be able to tell us about the effectiveness of various learning techniques based on the changes they produce in the brain.