There's so much about the human brain we still don’t understand. For example, we’re just beginning to learn how memory forms, and have started tests on manipulating it. However, this isn’t for some future evil takeover of your mind or to create a world like that in Total Recall. Understanding how memory works is important in that it will help us understand what happens in a damaged brain, particularly after injury or with diseases such as Alzheimer's. Now, a group of students from the University of Oregon have figured out how to easily tap into short-term memory, by reading those memories directly in an effort to understand their limitations.
The researchers attached electroencephalogram (EEG) electrodes to the heads of 25 volunteers. Researchers then told the volunteers to envision a bar within a circle in their mind. Using the electrodes, the researchers tracked something called alpha rhythms, which occur as electrical activity in specific parts of the brain where short-term memories are created. Those alpha rhythm patters could be traced to specific memories, and the results were astounding: the angle of the bar within the circle in each volunteer’s specific memory could be determined just from the EEG measurements.
The readings from the EEG, and the translation of those readings into memories, occurred nearly as fast as the volunteers thought them. Obviously, this means that the alpha rhythms have everything to do with short-term memory, and are therefore a key in understanding what the limitations of memory creation are. The idea is to use these findings to understand those limitations and why and how they work, to figure out how the brain stores information.