Christine Schirtzinger, Triathlon Coach, T2 Coaching

photo: Christine Schirtzinger

How many times have you opened your mouth to call your son, only to find his sister’s name coming out? You might even cycle through your spouse’s name and all your pets before you finally get the name you meant (and have likely forgotten what you needed them for in the first place). No, it’s not an early sign of dementia. There is a scientific— and completely heartwarming — explanation for why you mix up your kids’ names. Keep reading to find out why this confusing phenomenon occurs.

According to a study published in the journal Memory & Cognition, mixing up the names of family members and friends is a very common habit and something almost everyone experiences at some point. The reason for this confusion has nothing to do with memory loss, but instead has to do with the way the brain categorizes information.

Name mix-ups almost always happen with family names, or the names of the people that are the closest to you, because the brain stores those beloved names together in one category. When your brain tries to quickly recall one of them, it sometimes pulls the wrong one because they are all grouped together.

If you find yourself cycling through your whole family’s names as you chase your paint-covered toddler through the house, don’t worry, you’re not losing your mind. All it means is that those little (and big) people, that can sometimes drive you crazy are also the ones you love the absolute most.