We’ve all had a brain fart or blip at some point, whether it's forgetting where you just put your keys, or wondering why you decided to walk into a room. But what causes these minor memory lapses, and when are they a cause for concern? Recently, Medical Daily spoke with Dr. Michelle Braun, a neuropsychologist who specializes in brain health, to learn the truth about brain blips and what we can do to prevent them.

A brain blip can be classified as a temporary inability to remember information, such as forgetting names or misplacing a frequently used object, like your car keys. They are normal and happen to the bulk of us regardless of age or gender. According to Braun, they are most commonly related to attention, or lack thereof.

“Most of the time we are multitasking in our minds, and when we do common activities and repetitive tasks our brains go into default mode,” Braun told Medical Daily, explaining that many blips occur from not really paying attention to the task at hand. “What you have to do is pay more attention to these mundane daily tasks and what it is you are trying to remember.”

For this reason, these blips are often more common in individuals who have a condition that compromises their ability to pay attention, such as those with ADD or a learning disability. Braun explained that they also may be more common in certain personality types, such as individuals who are more imaginative, pay less attention to the world around them, and may be more preoccupied.

Other research suggests that these brain farts are more closely related to psycholinguistics than concentration, and are a result of a lapse in the memory retrieval process, Mashable reported. In addition, they generally increase with age, as factors such as aging, sleep deprivation, anxiety and alcohol can all play a role, although even children can experience occasional brain blips.

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Braun suggests the “3 P’s” to help deal with the common everyday brain blip: pause, piggyback, and practice. Pausing to reflect on a task before you complete it can help you better remember all the details. Piggybacking your memory, or associating it with another action or in a location is also helpful. Lastly, practicing the task, such as repeating it in your mind, can also prevent these blips from occurring. Read more about these prevention techniques here.

However, just because brain blips are common, that’s not to say they should be completely brushed off. They could be a sign of something more serious. Braun suggests three main traits to help you differentiate if you brain blips are a common case of forgetfulness or a sign of illness: change in occurrence, frequency, and whether there is nothing else to possibly explain them.

“We look at frequency, is this happening a lot, and if it is happening much more than it has in the past,” said Braun. “Is it increasingly occurring with nothing else to possibly explain it like not enough sleep or more stress?”

Braun also explained that other people’s awareness of your increased forgetfulness and whether or not these blips interfere with your ability to complete daily tasks are also signs that it may be time to see your primary care physician about your forgetfulness.

“Brain blips can be more serious, which is why they are important to check,” said Braun, explaining that everyday forgetfulness could also be a side effect of a number of medical conditions such as B12 or B1 vitamin deficiency, dementia, an infection, a stroke, even a brain tumor or epilepsy.

So whether you’re forgetting where you put the keys, or you are having trouble completing everyday tasks, if these brain blips are happening more frequently than ever before without any other reason, it's best to check with your doctor, just in case.

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