It just happened to me the other day: I was watchingMarvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and there was a new guest star; I turned to my husband and said – “Oh I remember her – she was in ‘Angel’ and the new ‘Much Ado About Nothing’…Amy something or other….” And then I drove myself crazy trying to remember her name before giving up and searching it on IMDB (It’s Amy Acker).

We’ve all experienced moments like that before – what scientists call the “tip-of-the-tongue” phenomenon, or TOT – where we remember all sorts of things about something or someone but can’t seem to get the name out. Understanding how and why this happens is more than just a matter of helping us access random celebrity names: TOT opens a window into aphasia, a language disorder caused by stroke and other brain injuries in which people have a hard time remembering words and generating speech.

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