December 13, 2016

Recognition & Recall

If I asked you to look at a list of words, wait 5 minutes, and then write down as many as you could remember this would be an exercise in recall.

If I asked you to look at a list of words, wait 5 minutes, and then tell me which ones look familiar on a different list it would be an exercise in recognition.

Both processes use different parts of the brain, and recognition is much easier because it leverages context to evaluate information. This is why you know you've met someone before (visual/facial recognition) but can't remember their name ( abstract recall).

If their name were written down, though, you might be able to figure out which one "feels right." That's why most memory tricks that help you remember names suggest you create a compelling visual metaphor representing their name.

That way, the recognition of their face cues the association of the mental image that you can use to decipher their name.

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