We’ve all had that awkward moment where we introduce ourselves to someone and then forget their name a few seconds later. As we rack our brain and begin to get frustrated, we ask ourselves, why is it so hard for me to remember names? In AsapSCIENCE’s “Why Do You Forget Their Name,” hosts Micthell Moffit and Greg Brown explain our inability to commit names to memory is linked to how our brain processes information and our level of interest (or lack thereof).

As humans, we are better apt to remember someone’s face over their name. This is because our brains are far better equipped to process visual data like facial recognition. The visual cortex of the brain — part of the cerebral cortex — is responsible for processing visual information, meaning we are programmed to encode and retrieve visual data more so than auditory. Unlike names, facial details convey a mix of gender, age, ethnicity, among many others, which helps us better capture and store this information.

The inability to remember someone’s name after introduction could also be connected to “The Baker Effect.” The brain can’t make any mental links if we only hear a person’s name. However, we can tell this person apart if they provide information about what they do and how they spend their time. After all, names are just often a combination of letters that don’t hold any specific information in them.

The quick exchange that occurs during the period of introduction can also impact how the brain stores information. Our brain seems to fry when both disseminating information at the same time we try to take in and store new information, although we have both short- and long-term memory. However, short-term memory can only hold so much information that if we don’t focus on it, it fades away. This is known as “The Next-in-Line Effect.”

Now, all the blame can’t be placed on the brain. Our inability to remember names could simply be due to our lack of interest. If we’re at a party in which we’ll never see this person again or are just generally uninterested in forming a new relationship, then chances are we won’t care to remember their name.

Simply put, the more interest we have in something, the more likely we’ll make an effort to remember it. A rule of thumb to remember someone’s name? Find more interest in the person.

Published by Medicaldaily.com