I think it starts with…???


Tip-of-the-tongue effect is when there is a block in retrieval accompanied by a strong feeling of knowing.  This effect is very common and everyone has most likely encountered it multiple times in their life.  An example of this is when you are talking to someone and you are trying to remember the name of someone in your story and you think you know it but just can’t come up with it.  The big question is why does this happen?

According a post I found online, this TOT effect happens “when the left temporal and frontal areas of your brain temporarily fail to work together to retrieve words or names stored in your memory.”  (nextavenue.org)  So as one would think, it is an issue with memory retrieval, which is one of the two components of this effect according to Schwartz and Metcalfe’s paper.  They say there are two components to this TOT effect.  The first one being the cognitive level which is when you try to retrieve something from memory and the second one being the metacognitive level which is reflection /commentary on the cognitive level and conscious feelings.  Some of the contributing factors that cause the TOT effect are multitasking, fatigue, and aging.  In the post I read, they seemed to find an interesting way to “beat TOT effect” and retain and recall memories better.  According to an article referenced in this post, if you clench your right fist before memorizing something and again right before trying to recall it, you will be able to remember it easier.  They did a study where a research team from Montclair State University in New Jersey asked a group of students to clench their right fists while they were memorizing a list of words and their left fist when recalling the list on a test.  They found that the students who clenched their fists scored higher than the ones who did not do it.  They said that this can “suggest that simple body movements, by temporarily changing the way the brain functions, can improve memory.”

Who knows if this trick will actually work every time or for everyone but it wouldn’t hurt to attempt it.  It would be interesting to test this out for an upcoming quiz or test and to see more research on this trick and the actual tip-of-the-tongue effect.




Picture: https://www.thoughtco.com/tipofthetongue-tot-phenomenon-1692548


3 thoughts on “I think it starts with…???

  1. kaylaf

    The whole idea of clenching your fist to remember something isn’t that strange. It’s like the idea of chewing a specific flavor of gum when you’re studying for a test then chewing the same gum when taking the test or studying in the same room you’re going to take the test in. This idea of coding specificity, or to place in memory both the things that need to be learned as well as the context of those materials, would have the materials you need to learn be recognized as familiar when presented in a similar context.

  2. natalieflorez

    I feel like I experience this a lot. What’s funny is I always tend to remember either the first letter of the thing or its general context. I know this is due to the lack of strength of the cue, but how does this explain if it’s something that you frequently reference or remember? I suppose that’s where fatigue comes into play. In order to remedy this, or least decrease its frequency, we are supposed to pair encoding with some type of physical action, according to the article. This seems like it has to do with encoding specificity. Would doing the same action at cueing produce better recall?

  3. jduvall

    This is actually a really fascinating study! Whether it’s entirely accurate or not, i hope we study more about it to help with other similar mental effects. Also, as someone who sometimes completely blanks on certain tests, i’m definitely going to steal this clenched fist technique while studying, it certainly can’t hurt!

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