It has probably have happened to everyone at some point of their lives, and is a problem that continue to plagues many (me included) even today – “What was your name again?” I probably meet almost a dozen new people every day, but it seems that no matter how hard I try, I cannot recall even one single name at the end of the day. Unless of course, they are smoking hot! But even then, it’s still quite difficult. Surely enough, I can’t be the only one!
So I read a little more about it, and it seems that the reason behind all of this is our very brains, and how we deal with processing memory. It seems that there are two types of storage in the brain: long-term and short-term memory. Short-term memory is what we call “working memory”, allowing us to remember small details and tidbits of information as we are doing the time when we are actually doing something – usually occurring in a short span of time. However, this type of memory doesn’t last.
We can hold only a finite amount of information short-term, and if we don’t concentrate on it or reengage a specific memory, it will fade away very quickly. Once we have accessed or reengaged that information enough times over a period of time, it gets stored in long-term memory. Once it is in there, it will stay there.
There are other reasons we forget names too though. For example, we aren’t really engaged when meeting someone, or we are in the middle of something else non-related whatsoever to him/her. Or perhaps, at times we might not even care about their names. After all, we probably aren’t going to see them again right?
Then again, this is simply our brain’s way of managing memories where valuable brain space isn’t wasted on things that we don’t really need to remember. This allows us to remember more important things like that appointment we had scheduled today, mom and dad’s birthdays, and anniversary dinners. We wouldn’t want to forget those, would we?