Ah, annoying gaps in human brain performance. Gotta love ’em.
Having words at the tip of your tongue happens on occasion (more frequently as you get older, as we’ve recently discovered), but why does it occur in the first place? Is it our prone-to-many-faults memory? Is it a conflict in the brain? As you’ll see in the video, above, by SciShow, it’s a little of both.
Like computers, our brains are wired with neuron clusters, some more complex than others. When a thought pops into into our heads, the neurons get triggered and attempt to connect. The thought spreads from higher-level neurons to lower-level neurons, but sometimes, the wires get “crossed” and the lower-level neurons never receive the thought.
A tip-of-the-tongue state, then, is what happens when the higher-level “meaning” clusters light up, but the lower-level “sound” clusters don’t activate completely, because the signal in our brains takes a detour instead of following the right path. Confused? We were too until we watched the fun and informative video.
And don’t worry, SciShow has suggestions to help you prevent it from happening at all! What’s that called again? Oh yeah, SATISFYING.