20 minute thought recall


Why do you sometimes struggle to recall information (place, face, name, memory), then 20 minutes or a few hours later, it suddenly comes to you. Were you sub-consciously thinking about it that whole time?

In: Biology

I don’t know the actual answer but I can take a guess.

When trying to remember you’re focused on one thing: remembering. You focus on one memory at a time.

Later on, when you’ve stopped focusing you are able to absorb the information around you which can trigger a memory which you then link back to you trying to remember something specifically.

Say your trying to remember a song. You try and try but just can’t remember it.

Later on, you’re watching TV and a commercial comes on and is playing a different song which was in a movie you saw that also had the song you were trying to remember and that song just happened to have the same name as that movie. BOOM! MEMORY!

The truth is we don’t yet know exactly how human memory storage works. We understand some of it, like the fact that your brain records patterns. The strongest theory suggests that you remember someone’s face by remembering a specific configuration of patterns that make up their facial features, mannerisms, voice, and so on. Same with events, where you remember a series of specific events laid out in a more-or-less linear progression. In software terms, all of your memories are compressed to save space.

Because we’re still not sure exactly how human memory works, we can’t really determine why sometimes a memory seems to be “missing” and yet sometime later it suddenly “appears,” We’re not sure how “jogging” someone’s memory works, either. There’s evidence that memories are stored linearly in the brain. This can be witnessed when you or someone else in a conversation gets distracted and forgets what you were talking about, and once you “set them back on track” by mentioning the topic that lead up to this moment, the entirety of their previous “train of thought” gets back on track. However, we don’t know what causes specific memories to fail to arise when explicitly called for one moment only to be easily available the next.