Phonological Interlopers Tend to Repeat When Tip-of-the-Tongue States Repeat
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We elicited tip-of-the-tongue (TOT) states to replicate the finding that TOTs repeat for individual words. Humphreys and colleagues have attributed this error repetition phenomenon to implicit learning of the mappings between the lemma and phonology. We also examined whether or not interlopers - repeated information that persistently comes to mind - repeat during TOT states for individual words, along with the type of interlopers. Participants were given a TOT test and the same TOT test one week later. The test consisted of the presentation of a definition and participants indicated if they knew the word, did not know the word, or if they were in a TOT state. Participants were also given 15 s to think aloud about the target word on both test and retest. We found that information repeats significantly more often for repeated TOT states (26%) than repeated Don't Know states (13%). We also found that participants experienced significantly more repeated phonological interlopers during a repeated TOT state (59%) versus a repeated Don't Know state (12%). Theoretically, the results may suggest that the TOT state is best described as a subthreshold state, and that within this subthreshold state there is a specific erroneous pattern of activation (akin to a local minimum) rather than a non-specific pattern of activation. These findings are an important constraint toward the development of a more formal explanation of recurring TOTs.
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