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How to Remember a Word or Name You've Blanked on

It's the most frustrating thing in the world: You're in the middle of a story and can't think of the word or name you need. Retrieve it fast with these tricks.


  • Step 1: Move or wave your hands. Canadian researchers have found that gesturing activates both the language and memory part of the brain, increasing your chances of remembering the word you're looking for.
  • TIP: Wave your hands while you're trying to memorize something. One study found that this makes you three times more likely to retain it.
  • Step 2: Move your eyes back and forth horizontally. It activates both the "spatial" right brain and the "logical" left brain, and together they can help you retrieve the lost word.
  • Step 3: Run through the alphabet in your head. When you come to the first letter of the word you're looking for, it often triggers your memory.
  • Step 4: Fuggedaboudit. In a British study, people who stopped searching for the right word were 30 percent more successful at remembering it than those who kept struggling. Trying too hard makes things worse by causing stress, which impairs memory.
  • FACT: Some research indicates we forget 30 percent of what we hear after 20 minutes, and 50 percent within half an hour.

You Will Need

  • Hand gestures
  • Eye movements
  • The alphabet
  • The ability to forget

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