The Tip of the Tongue State
Psychology Press – 2011 – 237 pages
Series: Essays in Cognitive Psychology
This book brings together the body of empirical findings and theoretical interpretations of the tip of the tongue (TOT) experience – when a well-known or familiar word cannot immediately be recalled. Although research has been published on TOTs for over a century, the experience retains its fascination for both cognitive and linguistic researchers.
After a review of various research procedures used to study TOTs, the book offers a summary of attempts to manipulate this rare cognitive experience through cue and prime procedures. Various aspects of the inaccessible target word are frequently available – such as first letter and syllable number – even in the absence of actual retrieval, and the book explores the implications of these bits of target-word information for mechanisms for word storage and retrieval. It also examines: what characteristics of a word make it potentially more vulnerable to a TOT; why words related to the target word (called "interlopers") often come to mind; the recovery process, when the momentarily-inaccessible word is recovered shortly after the TOT is first experienced; and efforts to evaluate individual differences in the likelihood to experience TOTs.
"For scholars interested in a thorough, well-organised, and concise description of what is currently known about the [TOT] phenomenon and how we know it, it is hard to imagine how a more useful resource could have been constructed." - David Kreiner, University of Central Missouri, USA, in PsycCRITIQUES
"Everyone has been thwarted by tip of the tongue, but how can such a fleeting subjective phenomenon contribute to scientific knowledge? In this up to date volume, Brown delves into the techniques that cognitive psychologists use to study tip of the tongue states in the lab. Focusing on basic research findings, his comprehensive treatment illustrates the power of experimental psychology to provide new insights into age-old questions, such as how we ‘know that we know’ something, even if we cannot (just yet) think of it. It is a welcome resource for students and scholars of human cognition." - David A. Gallo, Assistant Professor, University of Chicago, and author of Associative Illusions of Memory: False Memory Research in DRM and Related Tasks
"Alan Brown has continually shaped the way researchers think about TOTs. Here, Brown has written a well thought out overview of research on the TOT phenomenon. This book will be an indispensible guide to anyone doing or intending to do research in this area. It will shape and guide research on TOTs by establishing common conventions and promoting a new set of research questions. I’ve been researching the TOT phenomenon for over twenty years, but I was challenged to think in new ways by Brown’s book." - Bennett L. Schwartz, Professor of Psychology, Florida International University, and author of Tip-of-the-Tongue States: Phenomenology, Mechanism, and Lexical Retrieval
"Brown provides a succinct, current, and authoritative overview of the entire empirical literature on this peculiar state of consciousness when a relatively rare word cannot be recalled. The book summarizes the TOT literature from three different perspectives: memory, linguistic, and metacognitive. The 11 chapters cover historical issues, definitions of TOT, measuring and manipulating TOTs, TOT target words, interlopers, and individual differences. This empirically driven, functional assessment of this retrieval-failure phenomenon is a welcome addition to the literature on human memory and cognition. It will be of interest to linguists as well as to cognitive psychologists and developmental psychologists. Summing Up: Essential." - G. C. Gamst, University of La Verne, CHOICE
1. Historical Background. 2. Defining the TOT State. 3. Eliciting and Measuring TOTs. 4. Manipulating TOT Probability. 5. Partial Target Word Information. 6. Dimensions of TOT Target Words. 7. Interlopers. 8. Resolving TOTs. 9. Etiology. 10. Individual Differences. 11. Summary.