#BrainFactMonday – What To Do When A Name Is On The ‘Tip-Of-Your-Tongue’?

Posted on 25th September 2023

How annoying when you need to recall a name, a fact, or a place that is on the tip of your tongue yet.... it doesn't come!!!

This #BrainFactMonday explains what happens in the brain when this phenomenon occurs and how to retrieve that memory faster!

The phenomenon is called (you guessed it!) "tip-of-the-tongue" phenomenon (TOT) and it happens when you are unable to recall a specific piece of information that you know you should know, but it feels just out of reach. 🤷‍♂️

🧠 The TOT involves various processes in the brain, including 𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗿𝗶𝗲𝘃𝗮𝗹 𝗳𝗮𝗶𝗹𝘂𝗿𝗲 (the info you're trying to recall is stored in your long-term memory, but the connections to access that info are temporarily weakened or disrupted) and/or 𝗽𝗮𝗿𝘁𝗶𝗮𝗹 𝗮𝗰𝘁𝗶𝘃𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 (even though you can't recall the information fully, the brain still manages to retrieve some partial information i.e. the first letter, the number of syllables etc).

📌 𝗡𝗼𝘄 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗶𝘀 𝗶𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴: have you noticed that this tends to happen when we try to remember proper nouns, names, and specific technical terms? It's not a coincidence, research suggests that certain types of memories may be more susceptible to retrieval difficulties indeed.

Good news: the TOT phenomenon is 𝘁𝗿𝗮𝗻𝘀𝗶𝗲𝗻𝘁, so in the end you'll get your noun/name/tech info back. How can you make it 𝗵𝗮𝗽𝗽𝗲𝗻 𝗳𝗮𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗿? ⚡

👉𝗔𝘀𝘀𝗼𝗰𝗶𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻: make associations between the target memory and other related information or concepts. Connecting the memory to other things you know can trigger the recall of the desired information.

👉𝗠𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗮𝗹 𝗶𝗺𝗮𝗴𝗲𝗿𝘆: visualize the concept or information you are trying to remember. Creating a mental image of the information can enhance memory retrieval.

👉𝗥𝗲𝗹𝗮𝘅𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝘁𝗲𝗰𝗵𝗻𝗶𝗾𝘂𝗲𝘀: don't get nervous if you can't recall it, rather use relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation to calm your mind and improve memory retrieval.

👉𝗔𝘀𝗸𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗵𝗶𝗻𝘁𝘀 𝗼𝗿 𝗰𝗹𝘂𝗲𝘀: in a social setting, you can ask others for hints or clues about the information you are trying to remember. Sometimes, their cues can trigger your memory.

👉𝗖𝗵𝗮𝗻𝗴𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝗲𝗻𝘃𝗶𝗿𝗼𝗻𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁: if you've been trying to remember something in one setting without success, a change of environment or a short walk can provide a mental reset and potentially facilitate memory retrieval.

There you go! Now you won't struggle much when you experience the tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon next time. Take it easy and be patient with yourself, with these tactics, it will come back soon!

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