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.