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WATCH: The Science Behind Why It's So Hard to Remember Names

14 MAY 2015

It's a situation we've all been in: you're at a party, you meet someone new and literally one minute later go to introduce them to a friend when - bam - you realise that you have no freaking idea what their name is. Or, even worse, you run into someone on the street whose face you recognise so well, but whose name completely escapes you, leaving you awkwardly wondering how long you can get away with calling them "buddy". But don't feel bad. As the latest episode of AsapSCIENCE explains, this is totally normal. In fact, there's a perfectly rational scientific explanation for why we're so awful at remember people's names.


The reality is that our brains just aren't suited to noticing whether someone's called John or Jack. Instead, brain scans show that our neurons respond instead to people's faces. And even if we do notice their name, we're not wired to store it for long, as a result of something called the 'baker effect', as Mitch and Greg explain in the video above.

Imagine, for example, that I tell you I'm a baker. Suddenly that word is filled with information about what I do and how I spend my time and it's locked into your brain by a number of mental links. But if I tell you my name is Baker, well, that literally provides no context and is much easier to forget.

And then there's the 'next in line effect'. This is when you're so focussed on (and sometimes nervous about) introducing yourself, that you can't take in the information someone else is providing you. Unfortunately, research has shown that our brains just aren't that good at disseminating information at the same time as we take in and store new information.

There's also a third explanation for your terrible memory for names, and it depends on your personality type. Watch the episode above to find out more. And if you want to get better at remember someone's name, the boys at AsapSCIENCE have also come up with seven brain hacks in the video below. On behalf of science, you're welcome.