I have it on the tip of my tongue ...

Who I am
Louise Hay


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It has happened to everyone: we are in the middle of a conversation and suddenly we can't remember a word. The word we would like to say remains as "stuck" on the tip of the tongue, hence the famous expression "I have it on the tip of my tongue". There is no way to remember it, even if we have the feeling that we have it very clear in our minds. We will probably say to those close to us: "wait a second for it to come to me ...", but it is as if the word had disappeared. What really happens? Psychology has studied this phenomenon for years and has come to the conclusion that it is due to a disconnect between the concept involving the word and its lexical representation. In fact, to speak fluently it is not only necessary to manage the concepts we want to express, but also to have the lexical representation of the words available.When we are left with a word on the tip of the tongue, it is because we have a clear concept in our mind and we can also remember one or two letters of the word in question, but we do not have the complete lexical representation, so that we cannot pronounce it. Basically, we know what we mean, but we don't remember how to pronounce it. But now, a new study explores this phenomenon and provides us with a solution. Psychologists at McMaster University in Canada have recruited volunteers who have been given the experience of being stuck with a word on the tip of their tongue. This was done by presenting the definitions of strange words, such as: what is the name of the calculation tool with which you perform operations by moving balls on a rod? Sometimes people quickly encountered the answer, other times they indicated that they did not know it and in several cases they said they had the word on the tip of their tongue but could not pronounce it. After 10 or 30 seconds, researchers would suggest the answer. Anyway, the interesting detail is that activating this disconnection made people more inclined to experience the phenomenon, even if they already knew the word, no matter how long it had been. In fact, the experiment was repeated 5 minutes, 48 ​​hours and even a week after the initial experiment.These results suggest that having a word on the tip of the tongue does not simply depend on the disconnect between the concept and the lexical representation but that at the base A failed learning process is hiding.To understand what happens in the brain, we can imagine a hiker who knew the way but got lost before reaching the goal. This hiker is likely to start treading new paths that will take him further and further away from his destination, creating more chaos and confusion.Our brain behaves the same way when it cannot find the path between the concept, the letters and the sounds. And this experiment suggests that if we take the wrong path once, we are more likely to go wrong again and lose our way along the way.

Don't let them give you the answer

These results indicate that having someone suggest the word to you is not helpful, because the next time you are likely to get stuck again and feel even more frustrated. This happens because when they suggest the word to us, our brain does not complete the process of searching for the lexical representation. To continue with the wayfarer analogy, it is as if someone had him get on a helicopter and took him directly to his destination. He will come, that's for sure, but he won't have learned the correct path, so the best thing to do to help someone who has a word stuck on the tip of their tongue is to help them find their way by themselves, giving them little tips to help them find their way. help him find the lexical representation in the archive of his memory. In fact, in the experiment it was noticed that when the participants were able to solve the problem on their own, they learned the word and could remember it without problems, so the next time you get stuck with a word on the tip of your tongue, you will not ask no one to tell you the word but let them help you find the way for yourself.
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