Bad With Names? Don't Blame Yourself, Blame Your Brain
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You're at a party and a co-worker introduces you to his friend. You've never heard of this person before this moment, and frankly, you're pretty sure you'll never see him again. What are the chances you'll remember his name? Let's just say, they're not very high. There are multiple reasons why you're able to remember random facts about new people, but you can't seem to hold onto their names. It involves your memory, an effect, a theory, and a paradox.You may have heard that your memories fall into two different buckets in your brain: long-term memory and short-term (working) memory. To remember names, you're relying on the not-so-reliable working memory. Northwestern University psychology professor, Paul Reber, tells The Atlantic: "You can hold just a little bit of information there and if you don't concentrate on it, it fades away rapidly." In order to remember someone's name, you need to be paying very close attention. This can be tricky due to the "next-in-line effect." Instead of listening to someone when they're telling you their name, your brain focuses on what you're about to say, how you'll move, etc. Humans are poor multi-taskers, and our brains are ineffective at taking in new information at the same time we're giving information.
Key Facts to Know
Brains have a hard time remembering information that seems arbitrary or disconnected from other information. 0:22
The "next in line" effect refers to when your brain focuses on its own routine and thoughts rather than absorbing information from somewhere else. 0:56
The more interested you are in something, the more likely your brain is to make new connections. 1:35
There's a Reason Babies Respond To High-Pitched Baby Talk
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Ever noticed how your voice shoots up a couple of octaves when you see a baby? For most of us, this change in tone is seemingly involuntary. While research varies on whether or not using a baby voice when speaking to your baby is beneficial, they do agree that babies prefer to listen to these high-pitched tones. Let the peekaboos commence!In a 2015 study by McGill University, Canadian researchers discovered that 6-month-old infants were much more attracted to their own speech patterns than those of adults. The infants listened to "a repeating vowel sound that mimicked those made by an adult woman or those by a baby" using a synthesis tool. Researchers measured the length of each infant's attention span. On average, the infants listened to a fellow baby's vowels 40 percent longer than the adult woman's vowels. It's important to note that the "infant-like vowel sounds that they heard were not yet part of their everyday listening experience." Meaning, the babies weren't partial to their own kind simply out of familiarity. Knowing infants' speech preferences can help us design more effective tools in developing their speech.
The Liar Paradox Is A Self-Referential Conundrum
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The liar paradox, also known as the liar sentence, states "this sentence is false." If that statement makes you go a little crazy, you're not the first one. The liar paradox first came about in ancient Greece, and philosophers have been puzzling over it ever since. It's even said that the gravestone of scholar Philetas of Cos, from the third century B.C.E., is engraved with the words "'Twas the Liar who made me die, And the bad nights caused thereby."
Wi-Fi Doesn't Actually Stand For Anything
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Considering how much you probably use Wi-Fi, it might be pretty shocking to realize you don't even have a clue what it means. It's wireless internet, sure, but where did that term come from? Surely the "Wi" part means wireless, and the "Fi" then must mean... err... Finternet? Surprise: Wi-Fi is a nonsense word that doesn't mean anything and doesn't stand for anything.
The Verb "Unfriended" Is Way Older Than Facebook
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After one too many rants on your Facebook feed, you may decide to unfriend your annoying aunt Helen once and for all. Unfriend, which means "to remove (someone) from a list of friends or contacts on a social networking website," has become a commonly used verb in our vocabulary. But where did the term come from? According to Interesting Literature, the Middle English poem "Brut" by Layamon is the first known usage of both "muggle" and a form of "unfriend": "We sollen ... slean houre onfrendes and King Learwenden after Brenne." Here, the noun form of unfriend (though spelled slightly differently) delineates someone who is not a friend, but not necessarily an enemy either. It wasn't until the 17th century that "unfriend" was first used as a verb. Mark Zuckerberg can thank the late, great William Shakespeare.