Do you ever have those moments where you’re trying to remember a word, or your neighbor’s name and it’s right on the tip of your tongue but you just can’t get it out? Most of us call it “The tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon,” but there’s actually a name for it. It’s called “Lethologica,” although most researchers just call it T-O-T or Tots, which stands for “Tip of the Tongue.”
Psychologists have been trying to find out more about TOTs since the sixties, and they’ve discovered that people have this problem between 1 and 4 times a week, and it gets worse with age. Other researchers have found that TOTs happen in about 88 percent of languages.
And sign-language speakers have the SAME problem! Instead of tip of the tongue they call it “tip of the finger.” And the deaf get T-I-Fs just as often as hearing people get T-O-Ts.
So why does it happen? The most likely answer is that when we don’t use a word or a name that often, our brains have a tougher time accessing it. And when we try, we can only come up with certain parts of the word.
Researchers say the best thing to do is to STOP thinking about the word. When the word comes to you and it will repeat it out loud several times.
Another way to remember is to gesture with your hands. Researchers at the University of Alberta in Canada found that moving your hands around gives your brain an alternate pathway to accessing that hard to find word.