Like many others, you may experience retrieval glitches on a daily basis. A retrieval glitch is the inability to effectively retrieve some or all bits of information stored in the long-term memory. A retrieval glitch, or the tip of the tongue experience as it’s colloquially known, alludes to the sensation of being absolutely certain that a particular piece of information is stored in the long-term memory, but experience an inability to retrieve all or some pieces of that information.
The tip of the tongue experience, however, is not an all-or-nothing experience. In most cases, people are able to recall the first letter of the word in question, the correct amount of syllables contained in the word, or recall other words with a similar sound or meaning. The latter of these sensations — recalling words similar in sound or meaning to the word on the tip of the tongue — is referred to as cued recall. Cued recall can be used to combat the TOT experience in many instances by calmly letting the mind run through a list of words that should eventually trigger the original word in question.
Studies have also shown that the TOT experience usually resolves itself within two days after the initial failure in retrieval. This substantiates the age old cliche used to overcome TOT — that is, by simply forgetting about the word altogether and letting the subconscious deal with it. However, if waiting forty-eight hours for a bit of information to surface on its own is not an option, there are methods that can be employed to overcome TOT. The main hurdle in combating TOT is to simply remain calm. Anxiety and stress do nothing but cloud the mind, and beating yourself up over a failed retrieval is no way to deal with TOT.
One can either use the aforementioned exercise of letting the mind run through a list of associated words similar in sound or meaning to the TOT word, or simply let the anxieties and thoughts associated with the TOT experience fall away. This latter approach (which seems more like an act of Zen than a proactive method of retrieving a memory) hinges on remaining calm. If done in a calm, collected manner, both these methods — separately and in conjunction with one another — can be used to effectively retrieve information from the long-term memory and combat the TOT experience.