Tip-of-the-tongue syndrome


Tip-Of-The-Tongue Syndrome is something that has been with us probably as long as we’ve had large vocabularies.
It happens to all of us.  Suddenly forgetting a word while speaking is irritating and sometimes embarrassing, especially if a word is “at the tip of our tongue”, but we can’t remember it. We know the word —— even names we want, but it just does not come out.  Scientists call it the Tip-of-the-Tongue Syndrome (or TOT).  College students tend to experience TOT a couple times a week, whereas by the time most people reach 65,they experience them at about twice that rate, even once a day is still considered normal.
tip_of_my_tongueInterestingly, TOT happens to children too.  No one is immune.  And no, it’s not technology or modern life that causes it either.  According to a paper, which summarises much of the studies on TOT : ” TOT is a universal experience among people of all languages and cultures”.   “It’s really hard to say what causes it,” Gary small, M.D., professor of psychiatry at the UCLA Semel institute, told Mashable, “I don’t think we’ve had enough research on it.  But we do know that as our brains age, our neurons don’t communicate as effectively as they did when they were younger……. process becomes less efficient.”——-It’s sometimes called a brain “traffic jam”, because brain imaging shows that’s exactly what happens to the pathways in the brain as a person tries to remember an “elusive word.”  One theory is that as we age, and the neurological pathways become thicker and more profuse, the more likely we are to miss a connection here or there.
tipofmytongueSome people (and even some scientists) recommend mentally walking away from trying to remember the word ——– it’s more likely to pop up that way.  Or, you could think of similar words and pull up Thesaurus.com and run your eyes down the list of words.  Of course that doesn’t work when the word you’re trying to remember is someone’s name.
Deborah Burke, a psychology professor at Pomona College in Claremont, California, who has researched TOT, explained the concept to the Orlando Sentinel : “It has to do with not being  able to remember what the word sounds like.  A word is retrieved by remembering its sound.  People are twice as likely to find the word, if something they read or hear during a TOT shares some of the missing word’s sounds.”  —-While TOT has been studied since the mid-1960s, it continues to receive attention from academics in the fields of neurology, psychology and linguists because it touches on all of their areas of study.
So, the next time TOT happens to you, try not to obsess and remember ———— IT’S JUST PART OF BEING HUMAN.
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