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Boost your memory by Darren Bridger

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22

Tip of the tongue

‘Oh, I know the word! It’s… um… I definitely know it! It’s right on the tip of my tongue!’

Don’t worry, everyone experiences this frustrating effect. We’ve all had that sensation; now here’s how to deal with it.

Pioneering nineteenth-century psychologist, William James, described this as a ‘gap that is intensely active’. You have a strong conviction you should know the word. Yet despite trying hard, you just can’t recall it. Most of us know it as the ‘tip of the tongue’ effect. It typically happens when you’re trying to remember someone’s name or a particular word (rather than, for example, a date or spatial location). It’s a linguistic problem: we can’t find the word, even though we can easily ‘picture the face’, or ...

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