by Zoe Egan
My dissertation focussed upon the tip-of-the-tongue (TOT) phenomenon – a psycholinguistic research area. We all experience TOTs to varying degrees and the majority don’t really take any notice of them but for some people, they are really frustrating.
A TOT is a word that we are unable to retrieve even though we are 100% sure that we know what the word is. For example, you might be asked for the surname of the royal family. You know it. You 100% know it. The name may have popped into your head and then suddenly disappeared without a trace. You may know the initial letter or the number of syllables in the name but STILL cannot produce the word in full. This is a TOT experience.
The reason for my interest in TOT research is mainly due to my mum. In 2008, my mum endured a severe bicycle accident where she badly hit the right side of her head (no helmet L), broke several bones, and damaged a lot of skin tissue. Nasty. At the time, the doctor concluded that no brain damage had occurred. Yet, over the last four years my mum has noticed deterioration in her language capabilities: mainly a heightened frequency of TOT experiences. This was becoming a serious issue for my mum as she often felt nervous and stupid in conversation, as she was unable to retrieve basic lexicon. My dissertation therefore focussed on finding a “cure” for her. Continue reading