WAIT…IT’S RIGHT ON THE TIP OF MY TONGUE!
Research has confirmed that as we reach middle age, say 40 to 60, our brains don’t function as efficiently as they did when we were young. For example, we may become easily distracted more often. (We may stick our coffee in the microwave to warm it up, and then completely forget about it.)
These examples are relatively common, which is why researchers are more and more interested in finding out if the aging brain can continue to learn, and even more importantly, remember what it has learned.
Fortunately for us, scientists have confirmed that our brains continue to develop, and way beyond middle age. Deborah M. Burke, a professor of Psychology at Pomona College in California, believes that the ‘tip of the tongue’ phenomenon is something we can experience at any age, but may see it happening more often as we get older. What is the ‘tip of the tongue’ phenomenon? You know those times when you are trying to think of a word, and you know you know it, but you just can’t recall it, but it’s ‘RIGHT THERE’!
Dr. Burke’s explanation is that those words that you find on the ‘tip of your tongue’ are hidden away in the folds of your neurons. Our neural connections, which are responsible for retrieving information, can weaken as we age, AND from non-use. However, she provides some useful tips. According to her research, sounding out a part of the word that is similar to the word we’re trying to retrieve, can act as a trigger, helping us to locate the lost word. These similar sounds act as a ‘jump-start’ to our neural network and help us retrieve information. Another helpful hint is to work through the letters of the alphabet in your mind, as this can also be helpful when trying to recall words, names, etc.