Yesterday I was trying to remember the name of a particular song and I couldn’t think of it, but I knew I would recognize it if I saw it (which I did). What is the neurological process responsible for this type of memory retrieval?

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Why did I recognize the song title when I saw it but I couldn’t think of it on my own without that cue?

In: Biology
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You’re being “primed” to remember certain information, like the name of a song, song lyrics, melodies, etc by being exposed to other parts of that same information “clump”.

Priming is a pretty interesting phenomenon in that it can be used to make people remember things they never actually memorized in the first place, and it can also be used to design academic tests in such a way that almost no-one will pass.

I had a psych professor show us an example of it, where he gave us the anti-priming test first and then the normal test right afterward. The average score on the anti-priming test was under 20%, and the normal one was over 80%.

Your brain also does some tricks to try and help you remember stuff, such as blocking out what it thinks is irrelevant information, which ultimately may or may not include what you are trying to remember. This is why sometimes you can’t remember something until you come back to it later.

For instance I am almost always unable to remember Mark Wahlberg’s name for some reason. It just finally came back to me now.