The TRUTH About Word Finding Troubles

Picture this. You’re having a lively conversation with a friend, and suddenly, find yourself grasping for a word that’s just out of reach.

You KNOW it’s in there somewhere, hiding in the recesses of your mind.

But no matter how hard you try, you can’t seem to pin it down.

When you have trouble word finding should you be worried? Could being tongue-tied be linked to cognitive decline?

If you’re over 50, you might be all too familiar with the frustrating scenario I described above.

Lethologica, or difficulty word finding, is a common occurrence that tends to happen more frequently as we age.

It’s that annoying tip-of-the-tongue feeling where you can almost taste the word you’re looking for, but it just won’t come out.

While experiencing lethologica can make you feel like you’re losing your marbles, occasional word-finding trouble isn’t necessarily a sign of a serious problem.

In fact, a recent study from the University of Toronto sheds some light on what might be going on when we struggle to find words.

The researchers gathered a group of 125 healthy adults, aged 18 to 90 and asked them to describe a scene in detail. They recorded these descriptions and used AI software to analyze various aspects of their speech, including…

  • talking speed,
  • the length of pauses between words, and
  • the variety of words used.

But here’s where it gets really interesting.

Researchers also used a clever “picture-word interference task” to separate the two steps in naming an object—finding the right word in your mental dictionary and telling your mouth how to say it aloud.

This allowed them to better understand what’s happening when we experience lethologica.

It turns out that the speed of speech in older adults was linked to how quickly they could name pictures.

This suggests that as we age, we experience a general slowdown in cognitive processing, which is likely an underlying cause of word-finding difficulties and other age-related changes in language and cognition.

If you occasionally struggle to find the right word, it’s probably NOT a sign of cognitive decline… it’s just a normal part of aging.

The speed at which you speak is a more accurate indicator of your brain health, rather than how often you experience lethologica.

So, the next time you find yourself trying to find that whatchamacallit or describe that thingamajig, don’t worry too much about it.

P.S. Feeling forgetful lately? Check your fridge for this MEMORY thief.


Wei, H. T., et. Al., (2024). Cognitive components of aging-related increase in word-finding difficulty. Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition, 1–32. doi. org/10.1080/13825585.2024.2315774

Dr. Scott Olson, ND

Written By Dr. Scott Olson, ND

Nearly 25 years ago, failed mainstream medical treatments left Dr. Olson in constant pain – and his health in ruins. And that’s when he did something REVOLUTIONARY. He began his career in medicine – and dedicated his life to uncovering the true, underlying causes of disease.
Through his innovative medical practices in Tennessee and Colorado, Dr. Olson has helped cure countless seniors from across America of arthritis… heart disease… diabetes… and even cancer. All without risky prescription drugs or painful surgeries.

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