Information Recall: Memory Tips To Remember Someone’s Name

Anne Sewell - Author

Oct. 12 2015, Updated 2:04 a.m. ET

We all know that feeling — you meet someone for a second time, but you just can’t recall their name. Even worse, you have to introduce them to someone else, causing endless embarrassment. The following are some memory tips gleaned from a recent study to help improve the way you remember a person’s name and avoid that social gaffe in the future.

Meeting people at social functions or in the street can be a pleasant experience. You introduce yourself to each other and enjoy an interesting chat, little knowing that within seconds you will have totally forgotten the other person’s name.

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You meet the person for a second time, either at a party or in the street and you can’t for the life of you dredge up their name from the depths of your memory. Worse, you are put in a situation where a friend who is accompanying you keeps looking at you, waiting for you to politely introduce this new addition to the conversation, but you simply can’t.

While clearly remembering the face, you seem to have completely and utterly forgotten their name. Of course the information is stored away in the brain somewhere, but you are having a hard time bringing it up to the surface.

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According to Science Direct, a recent study headed “The ecology of self-monitoring effects on memory of verbal productions: Does speaking to someone make a difference?” has resulted in a great way to enhance your memory. The results will be published in the November 2015 edition of the journal Consciousness and Cognition.

Offering great memory tips to help remember someone’s “handle,” Victor Boucher, a professor in the University of Montreal’s Department of Linguistics and Translation and lead author in the study, says that repetition is key in making the information stick in your head.

However by repetition he doesn’t mean just standing there, saying or thinking the name, over and over again. It’s not quite as simple as that. The best way to remember is to repeat the name to another person, thus enforcing that memory in your noggin and aiding information recall.

While giving details of the memory tips achieved by the study, Boucher brings up that term “information recall,” meaning the act of retrieving or re-accessing a memory that has already been stored in the brain.

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“We knew that repeating aloud was good for memory, but this is the first study to show that if it is done in a context of communication, the effect is greater in terms of information recall.”

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The research was run using 44 French-speaking students as guinea pigs, all wearing white noise-emitting headphones to block their own voices or other external noise. The students were then asked to read a series of words from a screen. While reading a selection of the words, the students used four varying actions.

The first group of words was read while repeating the words in their heads. The second, miming the words silently while moving their lips. The third was repeating the words out loud while looking directly at the screen. Last, but in terms of memory tips not least, was repeating the words aloud to another person.

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The participants in the study were then read a list of words and asked which words they remembered themselves saying. In the list were included some words that had never been shown on the screen to the students.

The results of the study were that the students recalled the words they had read to another person far better than the words they read using the other three methods. Even though, due to the headphones they were wearing, they wouldn’t have heard themselves speak, saying those words to another person made a significant difference in their memory recall.

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Offering up his memory tips, Boucher explains how this methodology works, saying that the simple fact of articulating without making a sound creates a “a sensorimotor link.” This link is a message that comes from one of our five senses and is processed by our brains. The sensorimotor link increases our ability to remember the words or name, but when used in conjunction with the functionality of speech, helps us to remember even more.

So there we are. As memory tips go, this is a great piece of news. Basically, when you meet someone for the first time and are given their name try, if possible, to immediately introduce them to someone else. If this is not possible, mention the person’s name to the very next person you speak to.

Speaking of memory tips, the Huffington Post offers another tip for remembering someone’s name. Their article recommends asking the other person something about themselves immediately on meeting them. By doing this, you give the other party a chance to speak, while giving your brain the chance to recognize who is doing the talking. This will help to anchor the person’s name in your memory.

[Photo courtesy of Michael via Flickr| Cropped and Resized | CC BY 2.0]


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