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Saying the name can help find lost things

SAYING 'car keys' out loud may help find them, memory scientists have suggested.

Research indicates that hearing an object's name can improve our effectiveness in searching multiple places for that particular item.

In some instances the technique of talking out loud helped a "visual search" to such an extent that seemingly "invisible" objects suddenly became "visible" new research shows.

Assistant Professor Gary Lupyan and Associate Professor Daniel Swingley, who co-wrote the research, said: "When participants are asked to find a visual item among distractors (other objects), hearing its name immediately prior to searching improves speed and efficiency of searching for the named object.


"Hearing an object name can ... improve the ability to attend simultaneously to multiple regions of space containing the named objects and even make an otherwise invisible object visible."

The research was published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.

In one experiment, scientists chose 26 undergraduates from the University of Wisconsin in the US and asked them to find 20 coloured drawings among a set of 260.

Participants were required to either read the name of the target out loud prior to beginning the search, or to start looking for the item without speaking its name.

Researchers found: "Speaking the name of the target immediately prior to the search made search significantly faster and more accurate."