Effects of practice on tip-of-the-tongue states Academic Article uri icon


  • Tip-of-the-tongue (TOT) states were examined in relation to acquisition manipulations, using named imaginary animals (TOTimals) as targets. High levels of TOT states were found in three experiments. In the first experiment an increase in the duration of initial exposure to target material improved recall and recognition, and reduced the number of unrecalled items not in TOT states (NTOTs), but did not affect TOT levels. In Experiment 2 practice at writing target names, as compared with only reading them, improved recall performance and decreased TOT levels, but did not reduce NTOTs. Experiment 3 replicated the finding that writing during practice reduced TOT states, but did not reduce NTOTs, and also found that more frequent practice trials increased recall without affecting TOT levels. The results suggest that practice writing target names prevents TOT states by strengthening otherwise deficient phonological connections in memory, a deficiency that can cause TOT states when visual-to-lexical connections give only partial access to a target in memory. The results also demonstrate the usefulness of the TOTimal technique for testing effects of acquisition variables on TOT experiences.

author list (cited authors)

  • Smith, S. M., Balfour, S. P., & Brown, J. M.

citation count

  • 9

publication date

  • March 1994

published in