Putting Names to Faces: How Your Brain Forms Associations

how the brain forms associations

Are you bad at remembering names but recognize faces? Or, maybe it’s vice versa. You may think that both pieces of information are in the same place in the brain. But, you would be wrong. This is how the brain forms associations.

How It All Works

In the temporal lobe, there is a part of the brain called the Fusiform Face Arena. This is the part of your brain that recognizes faces. This area is located somewhere behind your ears.

This area is so specialized that if you were to damage that part of the brain, you would no longer recognize faces. Even if you recognized a person’s voice or clothes.

However, your brain lacks a specific region that’s specifically for remembering names. It seems, that the part of your brain that remembers vocabulary is also responsible for remembering names. Names are, after all, just words you ascribe to people.

In addition, damage to this specific part of the brain would leave you unable to remember what to call anything. Be it your spouse or a piece of fruit. You would understand what it was but be unable to bring up the specific word.

So, since two different parts of the brain are responsible for putting names to faces, something goes wrong in either recognition or recall. Recognition is when you remember a person’s face. Recall is when you remember their name.

Lastly, using memory tricks will help you put names to faces later on. Simple repetition in your mind is a good start. For really important names that you must recall later, you can try a different trick.

Connecting their name to a personal fact about them helps. The more unique or outlandish, the better, so it sticks out in your mind. Building this type of association with a name will help you recall it later.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know how the brain forms associations, you can form little tricks on your own. There is not much you can do about recognition. But, you can sharpen your recall skills. In no time you will be able to make introductions without that awkward pause.