It’s not uncommon for “normal” people without a damaged brain to have difficulty with word retrieval. There are several phrases for this such as Deja-vu, tip-of-the-tongue, and stuttering.
Dr. Karin Humphreys, of Canada’s McMaster University, states “the more we think about the missing word, as we are inclined to do, the more it eludes us. But struggling with it only to be given the answer by the Internet actually doesn’t do us much good in helping us recall the word later”. In fact, Humphrey’s research suggests it basically ensures you’ll forget it again. The most helpful strategy is to say the word to yourself.
After my catastrophic massive stroke in December of 2008, I couldn’t use the right side of my body. I was mute, had difficulty reading, lost both my short term and working memory, and couldn’t remember prefixes or suffixes.
A few months after my stroke, I remember sitting on my red velvet armchair jotting down animal names. I also remember, as a four-year-old boy, being able to recite the names of animals in English and French. Overnight, I felt as if I had regressed to a four-year-old.
Six years later, I was practicing vocabulary by using a prefix and suffix dictionary. Do you know what I realized? Thanks to my brain’s neuroplasticity, now I could retrieve the correct prefix or suffix while I was engaged in a conversation.