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Tip of the tongue memory problems are normal, study states

Tip of the tongue memory problems are normal, study states
22nd October 2013

Those moments when you're thinking of something, but can't remember its name are not something to worry about, a new study from the US claims.

Researchers at the University of Virginia say that 'tip of the tongue' memory problems do become more common as we age, but there are perfectly normal and not an indication of the cognitive decline found in dementia cases.

The study asked more than 700 people aged between 18 and 99 to put names to pictures of famous places and people. The volunteers stated which they definitely knew, the ones they did not and the ones which left them with a tip of the tongue moment.

Of the pictures, US state senator Joe Lieberman and Hollywood actor Ben Stiller were found to be the most likely to give respondents such an experience.

Older volunteers experience more tip of the tongue moments that younger ones, but no link to dementia was recorded.

Dr Timonthy Salthouse, a psychologist at the university, 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."

Last month a study carried out at the University of Kentucky found that older people can boost their brain power if they consume small amounts of alcohol.

Tests found that 80 per cent of those which have regularly drunk small quantities of booze throughout their lifetime performed better on memory tests than teetotallers.

Caroline Abrahams from Age UK said the study proves that a little bit of what you fancy does you good and that moderate drinking can help to improve many older people's social lives.

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