Memory Hangman

An interesting study conducted at the University of California, Berkley talks about a recent finding in the brains ability to fill in the blanks in language. In this study, researchers found that memory and language are connected via the hippocampus, which we learned plays a key role in memory. The hippocampus is important to our sensory and semantic memory by helping us to remember colors, feelings, scents, and other factors surrounding an event so that we can make associations (Sanders, 2016). The researchers in a similar study used intracranial recording and fMRI to study epileptic patients’ ability to fill in the blank in sentences (recordings were only done in the non-epileptic hemisphere). These recordings were used to observe the hippocampus making associations when attempting to fill in the blanks from their memory. This and similar research can prove to be extremely beneficial to better understanding the process of memory formations and retrieval.

I found this study really interesting and it makes me wonder more about how we are able to pull important information from our memory to apply it to our current situations. A funny example of this is from when my best friend and I were playing hangman the other day. As you can see in the following images, you can tell my hippocampus was able to easily recognize the combinations of “I want food… now” and “I want food… right now”. I found it super amusing that that was the part of the hangman game that I could figure out the fastest and with only guessing one other letter! (I wonder what that says about me lol)


But I also thought that this study and example tied nicely to our discussions on the different memory systems and functions of the brain. These both link to our learning of encoding, storage, and retrieval of memory, along with how different factors can determine how we remember things and how we recall those memories.



Sanders, R. (2016, September 19). Brain’s hippocampus helps fill in the blanks of language. Retrieved from University of California, Berkley website:

5 thoughts on “Memory Hangman

  1. jesseboles

    This was an efficient blog post as it emphasizes what we are learning about in class right now and how we are able to retrieve information from from our brain to help us out in various situations. Initially I started to read your article by your creative title; it riled me in. As I read your blog post and got to the part where you mentioned your personal experience with our brains ability to fill in the blank, I was even more intrigued. I loved how you not only mentioned how this applies to your life, but also how you included personal visuals. I enjoyed reading your article.

    I wonder what other fill in the blank tasks our brain does without us even noticing us doing it?

  2. njohns

    When I saw your pictures of hangman, I immediately thought of “Wheel of Fortune”. I’m amazed by some of the contestants. A real example, someone solved the puzzle “I’ve got a good feeling about this” with only the letter L. I think it would be cool for researchers to recruit past wheel of fortune contestants to see if they maybe have a larger hippocampus. I really enjoyed your post and it definitely related to what we’re learning currently and you applied it well to a real word example!

  3. ewhitese

    I think this ties in closely with the ZAPS lab for this week about memory distortions as well. As the post discusses that we are obviously highly capable of applying learned information to current situations, but as the ZAPS shows that our recollection of the situations we use to learn from is not always accurate. I am also shocked at the brains ability to process and store information from everyday experience, then use this information at a later time to provide a knowledge base for a current situation.

  4. karahogue

    Why did it take me so long to figure out the entire thing? I’m a mess. This post was really interesting. I think it kind of tied into my post as well. It’s a lot easier to guess the word when you have context and more letters. I think this would also be easier if you guessed the first and last letters rather than just a few random middle letters. I’ve always been terrible at hangman and all of those word games (like wheel of fortune.) I wonder if the hippocampus could maybe be more developed in those who are able to form the whole word more quickly or easier? I also think it’s interesting that in my psychology of personality class we just learned about the hippocampus tagging memories. Dr. Liss said it tags our memories with “time and space.” I wonder how this may tie into this study. Maybe it could be useful in knowing which space of the sentence a particular word would be effective or make the most sense? It’s crazy how one brain system can do so many things effectively.

  5. Mariah

    This post was really fascinating! It made me think about all the ways that memory helps me in my daily life. It makes me think of the way that I try to study. I try to study by making sure that i have a certain type of music on, or I have something that will bring that information that I have stored in my memory back up when that song, or thing is present to me at another time. It helps bring up the certain information that I need help to focus on in class. I also love how you used something that is so relatable such as playing hangman with your friend. Its a fun new spin on how to get others attention as well as your use of pictures of before and after of your hangman game. It helped clarify the study that you discussed even more. Overall, very fascinating blog post.

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