What is ToT and why do we forget important things at the most inopportune moment

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Why does it often happen that we forget the names of people or some word is spinning on the tip of our tongue, but we just can’t remember it?

American psychologist and author of the bestselling book “The Seven Sins of Memory” (not published in Russian) Daniel Schacter believes that names are difficult to remember because they do not characterize people in any way.

Cognitive psychologists conducted an experiment: they showed the participants images of characters from cartoons and comics. Some of the names of the characters emphasized their characteristic features (Snow White, Scrooge, etc.), the names of others were just names (Mary Poppins, for example). Although all of the characters were well known to the participants, many had difficulty trying to remember a common name that was not associated with any quality.

When we feel that the word is literally spinning on the tip of the tongue and is about to break off, we fall into a special state of TOT (tip-of-the-tongue). If we want to unblock a word that stubbornly does not want to fly off the tongue, we need to ask ourselves a few questions. What is the first letter in this word (as a rule, you can remember it); what other letters can you remember; how many syllables are in this word; what associations come to mind at the thought of this word. Perhaps instead of him you will pronounce some kind of related word, which means that the present will soon fly off the tip of your tongue.

Some researchers believe that when a similarly meaningful word pops up instead of the desired one in the TOT state, this further increases the blockage. Such words are called “ugly sisters”, by analogy with the Cinderella sisters. They do not help, but only interfere with finding the right word. These words can prolong the TOT state, but in the end they will still lead you on the right path, giving a “pop-up hint”. To memorize names, try to evoke some kind of associations with them, phonetic or semantic.

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