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tip of the metacognitive tongue

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Mar. 3rd, 2012 | 02:34 am
location: Sasona
mood: busybusy

Just noticed that if there's a word I can't quite recall (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tip_of_the_tongue), it actually helps if I reason about it out loud. I talked aloud, in a disinterested voice, about the particular concept as if explaining it to someone. After about a paragraph of this, the word became silently(!) available.1

I noticed that I had a slight resistance to initiating the exercise of speaking out loud to prod the memory/clear the block/etc. I mean, I believed intellectually it would work, but not emotionally. The "stuck" circuit wanted to succeed "by itself", so to speak. (I guess that's a "wait, wait, don't tell me".)

I think whatever subsystem of my brain that was handling this request wanted that tiny "reward" of dopamine that you get when a mental effort succeeds. My talking-out-loud workaround gave me the word *without* any such reward. Or indeed any sense at all of where it came from.


[1] now that I think back on it, it may even have been a picture of the word. Or more specifically, the mental state that I might have shortly after seeing a picture of the word.

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Comments {2}


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from: tiarasaurus
date: Mar. 3rd, 2012 05:13 pm (UTC)

You are very skilled at explaining mental processes.

I can totally relate to what you described.

Thanks for giving me a new way of conceptualizing it.

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from: darklyspun
date: Sep. 19th, 2013 01:56 am (UTC)

This is really interesting.

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