Dr. Gary Small, M.D., is a professor of psychiatry and aging and director of the UCLA Longevity Center at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. Dr. Small, one the nations top brain health experts, frequently appears on The Today Show, Good Morning America, and The Dr. Oz Show. He is co-author with his wife Gigi Vorgan of many popular books, including The New York Times best-seller, The Memory Bible, and The Alzheimer’s Prevention Program. He is author of The Mind Health Report newsletter.

Dr. Gary Small, M.D.

Tags: memory | tip | of | tongue | dr | small | recall

Getting Over 'Tip-of-the-Tongue' Syndrome

Friday, 11 Oct 2013 11:57 AM

One of the most common memory complaints is "Tip-of-the-Tongue" Syndrome: You are sure you know the answer to something, but you just can’t pull it out of your head.
Despite its relative frequency, most people don’t have an effective strategy to deal with this phenomenon. Understanding the process will help lead to a solution. 
In these situations, we start to focus on associations with what we are trying to recall in order to help retrieve the information. This is a reasonable strategy that sometimes works. However, if it doesn’t work it can lead to anxiety, which distracts us and makes it even harder to remember. 
If you find yourself getting stressed out about your memory, try some deep breathing exercises to calm yourself down and reassure yourself that this happens to everyone at some point.
But the most common reason for the tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon is that we haven’t been using the word, name, or title much in the recent past. Here’s a simple method to systematically overcome this annoying memory challenge:
1.      Keep a pad of paper in your pocket or purse at all times; a smartphone will work, too.
2.      When you are experiencing a tip-of-the-tongue moment, jot down as many associations as you can to the word or title you are searching for.

3.      If you recall the word later — as often happens — immediately write it down next to your associations. If you can’t recall it later on your own, simply ask someone for help.

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