Despite its unlimited capacity, not all visual information we encounter is encoded into visual long-term memory. Traditionally, variability in encoding success has been ascribed to variability in the types and efficacy of an individual's cognitive processes during encoding. Accordingly, past studies have identified several neural correlates of variability in encoding success, namely, frontal positivity, occipital alpha amplitude, and frontal theta amplitude, by contrasting the electrophysiological signals recorded during successful and failed encoding processes (i.e., subsequent memory). However, recent research demonstrated individuals remember and forget consistent sets of stimuli, thereby elucidating stimulus-intrinsic factors (i.e., memorability) that determine the ease of memory encoding independent of individual-specific variability in encoding processes. The existence of memorability raises the possibility that canonical EEG correlates of subsequent memory may reflect variability in stimulus-intrinsic factors rather than individual-specific encoding processes. To test this, we recorded the EEG correlates of subsequent memory while participants encoded 600 images of real-world objects and assessed the unique contribution of individual-specific and stimulus-intrinsic factors on each EEG correlate. Here, we found that frontal theta amplitude and occipital alpha amplitude were only influenced by individual-specific encoding success, whereas frontal positivity was influenced by stimulus-intrinsic and individual-specific encoding success. Overall, our results offer novel interpretations of canonical EEG correlates of subsequent memory by demonstrating a dissociable impact of stimulus-intrinsic and individual-specific factors of memory encoding success.

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