Listening Topic: Psychology – radio call-in show

A. Read the following list of problems listeners ask about. Then listen and number the problems in the order they are discussed.

___ Ways to improve memory

___ Forgetting names

___ Tip of the tongue syndrome

___ Stress and memory

B. Read the questions and answer the ones you can. Then listen to the radio show again and complete your answers. Listen again if necessary.

1   If you are worried about your memory, how does that affect your ability to remember things?


2   What is the main goal of any techniques to remember names?


3   What example is given to try and remember the name John Hatfield?


4   What is it good to make the image for remembering a name silly or strange?


5   What are some different ways mentioned to give your brain a work out?


6   What is the tip of the tongue syndrome?


7   What does the psychologist suggest if, for example, you can’t remember the name of a movie?


8   Why does she say this approach is helpful?




3 2 4 1


Answers may vary slightly.

 Worrying about your memory makes it more difficult to remember things.

 The main goal is to make the name as memorable and meaningful as possible.

 Imagine a man in a field wearing a large red hat with the name “John” written on it.

 You are more likely to remember it if it is silly or outrageous.

 You can work out your brain by doing puzzles, like crossword puzzles and puzzles with pictures.

 The tip of the tongue syndrome is when you’re trying to remember something and it’s very close, but you just can’t seem to remember it.

 She suggest that you talk around it; for example, talk about the story and the characters in the movie.

 It gives your brain time to work on it.


A = Host, B = Dr. Phyllis Rae, C = Roberto, D = Tim, E = Lily

A:   Good morning and welcome to our show. Today we’re talking about memory. Our guest is Dr. Phyllis Rae. Dr. Rae has done quite a bit of research on memory and how the brain works. Hello and welcome, Dr. Rae.

B:   Hi, thanks for having me.

A:   Now, I’ll confess that I worry about my memory sometimes and I’m pretty sure that some of our listeners have similar worries, so I hope you can give us some tips.

B:   Well, I think I probably can. One thing that people often don’t realize is that feeling anxious or worried about your memory will definitely have a negative impact on your memory. So what I mean is that if you’re feeling stressed out because, for example, you always forget people’s names. Well, the stress of worrying about it will actually make it harder … harder to remember names.

A:   Really? So, we should try not to worry about it so much.

B:   Exactly.

A:   Well, we’re going to let our listeners get in on this conversation. Let’s see what they want to know about memory. First we have Roberto from Phoenix calling. Hello, Roberto, what’s your question?

C:   Hi! You mentioned forgetting people’s names. I have a terrible problem with this. So, I’m wondering if there are any little tricks that I can use to help me remember.

B:   Yes, there definitely are. With almost any trick or technique, the goal is to make the name you’re trying to remember as meaningful and memorable as possible. Try to associate the name with an image. Try to make the image as vivid as possible. For example, if you meet someone named John Hatfield, take a moment and come up with an image. Let’s see, I might picture the man standing in a field next to an enormous red hat, and the name “John” is written in large letters on the hat. You can picture anything that would be helpful, but make it really memorable. Actually, the sillier it is, the better, because you’re more likely to remember.

C:   Thank you. That’s really helpful. I think having a technique to use will help me feel less worried about this too.

B:   Good, so that will help with the stress factor we talked about.

A:   Thanks for calling, Roberto. Our next caller is Tim calling from Boston. Hi, Tim.

D:   Hi, this is a great topic.

A:   Thanks.

B:   Good.

D:   My question is about whether we can improve our memory or not. I’ve been hearing more and more about exercises to strengthen the brain and things like that these days. Well, it’s almost like people are saying that we have to work out our brain in a similar way to working out our bodies. Is this true? Should I be trying to exercise my brain?

B:   Great question. And, the answer is “Yes”. Research is definitely showing that exercise for our brains is beneficial. And yes, there is a parallel to exercise for our bodies. You can almost think about it as if the brain is a muscle and you have to work it to strengthen it just as we do with muscles in our bodies.

D:   So, how do you give your brain a work out?

B:   There are lots of ways. A lot of puzzles, for example crossword puzzles, are good for your brain. Puzzles that involve pictures and diagrams are also good. And there are actually a lot of good books available now with many different ideas on how to give your brain a work out. I recommend you find a book that looks interesting to you and then do the exercises.

D:   OK, I will. Thanks!

A:   Thanks for the question.

B:   I’d also like to add that giving the brain some exercise is a good idea as you get older. Age affects the brain just as it affects the body, so regularly working out the brain can help it stay healthy as you age.

A:   That seems like good advice, especially since we’re all getting older. OK, our next caller is Lily from Chicago. Hello, Lily.

E:   Hi! I think my memory is pretty good, but the thing that drives me crazy is when I have something on the tip of my tongue, but I just can’t remember it.

B:   Ah, the tip of the tongue syndrome! When what you’re trying to remember is so close, but you just can’t think of it, and the harder you try, the worse it gets, right?

E:   Yes, exactly.

B:   I’ve found the best approach is to talk around the topic. For example, if you’re trying to remember the name of a movie, talk about what the story is about, who the characters are and so on. This gives your brain time to work on it, and very often, if you don’t push too hard, it will come back to you.

E:   Thanks!

A:   OK, it’s time for a break. We’ll come back in a minute for more of your questions.

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