What's the title?

It's on the Tip of my Tongue!

Jade Allen & Mariah Gardner

The Reasoning

We chose the topic of ‘Presque Vu’ because of the interest level and how often it occurs in people's daily lives. Further research into Presque Vu could help improve our own, and many other people’s lives due to the phenomenon happening so often on a day to day basis. New information being found in this field of memory could help people in the sense that they could be aware of the Presque Vu occurring, and possible medical advances could help decrease the frequency of Presque Vu.

The Summary

Presque Vu is often referred to in daily language by something being ‘on the tip of your tongue’. Presque Vu is a French term, meaning ‘almost seen’. The feeling of Presque Vu is the sensation of being on the brink of an epiphany, and often occurs when trying to remember a name or word. Presque Vu can often cause one to be unable to focus on other topics at hand until the idea or word is remembered. It can cause disorientation and extreme distraction until remembrance occurs. Presque Vu does not always result in an immediate breakthrough.

The Brain

So, what is happening exactly? Basically, inside your brain the clusters of neurons responsible for meaning are being used but the sound neurons don't activate completely. What this means is that somewhere between the memory and the mouth, your brain is not completely making an important connection.

The Research

The first research study for Presque Vu was performed by Roger Brown and David McNeill. The study was published in 1966 in a journal entitled Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior. They went throughout their study by reading out the definitions of rare words to study participants, and were asked to name the object being defined. The instructor would later read the target word, and the participants were asked whether or not they had experienced a ‘tip of the tongue’ experience. If they had, Brown and McNeill asked the participant to provide any information they could about the word they were attempting to recall. Brown and McNeill found that if a participant indicated a tip of the tongue state, they were asked to provide any information about the target word they could recall. They discovered participants could identify the first letter, the number of syllables, words of similar sound, and words with similar definitions. This study was the first to prove the reality of the Presque Vu phenomenon. Sigmund Freud also discussed factors that may be involved in forgetting familiar words and ideas, but did not perform further research and studies. The Presque Vu occurrence was first described as a psychological phenomenon in the text Principles of Psychology by William James, although he, too, did not research any farther.

The Interesting Fact

Finally remembering that name or date or word is tough but when you do, it does not go unrewarded. Not only are you relieved but the connections inside your brain grow stronger so the next time you need to remember the thing, it will be much easier. However you have to remember it by yourself without help because if someone just tells you, then you haven't done the work and your brain can't become stronger. So the next time your friend is struggling, give them a hint but not the word itself.