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Do You Mix Up Your Kids Names? Here’s Why According to Science

posted: 02/03/17
by: Amanda Mushro
mom brain
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Blame it on mom-brain or that you've been exhausted since the day your kids were born, but do you find yourself calling for one of your kids and accidentally saying the wrong name? Maybe it's their sibling's name you call out or even the dog's name. If after several incorrect names you simply yell "Hey you, come here," according to a new study from Duke University, you shouldn't be too hard on yourself.

The researchers says calling loved ones the wrong name isn't a sign of aging or even a bad memory but is an example of how our brain creates categories. So when you call for your daughter and you accidentally say your son's name instead, it's because your brain has created a specific category for your loved ones. It's almost as if your brain files all of their names in a specific folder. When you are distracted or frazzled and call your child by the wrong name, it's just your brain trying to search through that folder and pulling out someone with a similar connection, and, in turn, you say that name instead.

While this happens in all of our brains, at all ages, confusing names seems to happen more often in one particular group: Mothers. Cognitive scientist Samantha Deffler says, "Any mom I talked to says, 'You know, I've definitely done this.'"

It's not just the names of our children that are filed away in this specific category, but our beloved pets are there too--but with one exception. According to Deffler, it is man's best friend that has a spot in this special category our brain has created. Deffler says, 'I'll preface this by saying I have cats and I love them. But our study does seem to add to evidence about the special relationship between people and dogs." So you are more likely to call your kids by your dog's name and not the family cat or fish.

So the next time you find yourself calling out the wrong name, just try a general term like "If I gave birth to you, please come here." That seems pretty effective to me.