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Published on: October 21, 2013
by The Daily Mail:
If those ‘tip of the tongue’ moments are becoming more frequent, fear not.
They may be frustrating, but they do not indicate an increased risk of dementia, research has found.
Anecdotal evidence has long suggested that this type of memory lapse happens more often as we age – but its relationship to cognitive decline such as Alzheimer’s had never been established.
So American researchers asked more than 700 participants, aged 18 to 99, to give the names of famous places, common nouns or famous people, based on brief descriptions or pictures.
The volunteers indicated which answers they knew, which they did not and which gave them a tip-of-the-tongue experience.
Several descriptions were particularly likely to induce such a moment like ‘what is the name of the building where one can view images of celestial bodies on the inner surface of a dome?’ and ‘what is the name of the large waterfall in Zambia that is one of the Seven Wonders of the World?’
Of the pictures of the politicians and celebrities, Joe Lieberman and Ben Stiller were most likely to induce a tip of the tongue moment.
Overall, older participants experienced more of these frustrating moments. But there was no association between the frequency of tip of the tongue occurrences and their performance on the types of memory tests often used in the detection of dementia.
Psychologist Dr Timothy Salthouse, of the University of Virginia, said: ‘We wondered whether these self reports are valid and, if they are, do they truly indicate age related failures of the type of memory used in the diagnosis of dementia’
‘Even though increased age is associated with lower levels of episodic memory and with more frequent tip of the tongue experiences, the two phenomena seem to be largely independent of one another.’
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