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Brain replacing something you're trying to recall with something else

Discussion in 'Cognition' started by Chriswolf, Dec 30, 2015.

  1. Chriswolf

    Chriswolf Senior Member

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    I'm not sure if this is just a peculiarity of mine, or if other people experience it, however I'm worried that it might be indicative of some more serious neurodegenerative problems.

    I also randomly have trouble remembering the name of common things I should not be forgetting so easily.

    Does anyone have any similar experiences or insight?
     
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  2. Invisible Woman

    Invisible Woman Senior Member

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    Oh, yes.

    Either substituting the wrong words: oven for fridge, radio for TV, kind of thing or else a giant black hole opens up and you can't think of any word - ans then you forget what the whole conversation was about anyway.

    On one occasion I forgot my partner's name (we'd already been living together for 10 years). It was really obvious and he stood there laughing and saying "Come on then, who am I?" It could have been worse I suppose - at least I didn't use the wrong name.

    Entirely normal when you have ME, I'm afraid.
     
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  3. TiredSam

    TiredSam The wise nematode hibernates

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    Yes, I increasingly find myself fishing in a blank mind for something that should be easy and obvious. A name of someone I've known for over 10 years, what I did yesterday, the end of my sentence. My spoonerisms are getting more frequent too. AFAIK these are common broin fag symptoms that many ME sufferers experience. I'm not sure it's degenerative, I think I read somewhere that when mental faculties return during a period of remission, everything's ok again. Maybe someone else knows more.
     
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  4. Old Bones

    Old Bones Senior Member

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    No, I don't think this is just a peculiarity of yours -- I do the same thing. What you describe falls under the category of "neurocognitive impairments" in the ME International Consensus Primer for Medical Practitioners, with a note that neurocognitive impairments "become more pronounced with fatigue". This is certainly my experience. I probably use the wrong word even more often than I realize, because I'm only aware of doing so when my husband brings it to my attention. I sometimes wonder how I must sound to outsiders when I do this.

    What I am aware of is the difficulty/impossibility of retrieving words. My work-around for this, at home only, is to use generic nouns such as: gizmo, device, thing-my, what's-it, etc. Over the years, my husband has learned what I'm asking for or referring to, based on time of day or context. I, too, worry about having a more serious neurodegenerative condition, but the fact that this symptom improves with rest gives me some comfort.
     
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  5. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    These curious phenomena are common in ME/CFS, and in fact are mentioned in the Canadian Consensus Criteria for ME/CFS:

    Forgetting words or names seems to be a random and transient phenomenon: it can occur at any time and with any word or name, but each time it appears to be a random word .

    Once for example, during conversation, I could not mentally recall the name of a president of the United States, so I had to say: "What's that president's name, you know, the democrat, a saxophonist, had a dalliance with Monica Lewinsky,..." And someone will say: "Bill Clinton", and then I can carry on with what I was saying. I often temporarily forget a word or name like this, but it is always a new random word every time.

    Interestingly enough, as the virus which appeared to trigger my ME/CFS also spread to my friends and family, I noticed most of these people suddenly developed this same word recall problem of transiently being unable to remember common words or names (none of my fellow infectees developed full ME/CFS, but most developed very mild ME/CFS symptoms like increased levels of fatigue, and this word recall symptom).

    In fact, when I have conversations with these friends infected with the same virus, we help each other out with fishing for the words that have been temporarily forgotten.

    This shows that viruses associated with ME/CFS can produce some of the symptoms of ME/CFS in most people, even if most people don't get the full disease.



    Saying a word which is wrong, but is somehow related to the correct word, is also something I started doing. For example I might say "spanner" when I meant to say "pliers" — both words are from the same category of household tools. I found the wrong word I said was always categorically related to the correct word. Though this word replacement phenomenon occurred much less than the word forgetting phenomenon.

    Sometimes in ME/CFS, the same categorial mistakes can occur in your actions too. For example, hearing the doorbell, but answering the phone.



    The term for having trouble recalling words or names is anomia.

    Saying a word which is wrong, but is related to the correct word, is known as semantic paraphasia (which is a type of verbal paraphasia).
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2015
  6. Little Bluestem

    Little Bluestem All Good Things Must Come to an End

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    This is what I really hate. I cannot think of a word I want, but I can think of all sorts of things about it. Recently I could not think of the name of Istanbul, so I said "That city on the Strait of Bosphorus. It was called Byzantium, then Constantinople." :confused:
     
  7. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    Yes that is the funny thing: you can always remember all the things associated with the item whose name you are trying to bring to mind. So your semantic network remains intact (in artificial intelligence research, semantic network is the name given to a network connecting closely related items).

    So in one sense, you have fully recalled the item whose name you are trying to remember, because you can effortlessly recall all the things closely related to the item. But you just cannot recall the name of the item.

    I bet in your case, you could have written a whole essay of facts about Istanbul, without actually being able to bring to mind its name!
     
  8. Ellie_Finesse

    Ellie_Finesse Senior Member

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    I can echo what everyone has said...... My husband is sweet, he smiled and finished off my sentence when I was having a convo with my sister. It was so frustrating, one minute I knew what I wanted to say and within seconds it was gone..... o_O
     
  9. cmt12

    cmt12 Senior Member

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    ME/CFS is the imbalance disease. Our bodies can stay in constant imbalance for a long time before disfunction happens -- there are people on this forum who have had ME/CFS exclusively for decades -- so there is no reason to speculate and fear the worst unless the evidence is overwhelming that there is degeneration happening.
     
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  10. Chriswolf

    Chriswolf Senior Member

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    At least I'm not alone in this, it is however probably the most disconcerting and if I might say scary aspect of my particular syndrome.

    I forgive myself a little more when I forget things such as the name of the author H.P Lovecraft, recently I was asking a question and the person didn't know who I was talking about, and I had to finally say: "You know, the Cthulhu guy!"

    However when I forget the name of mundane items or people in my life that I should unquestioningly know by default, it is a bit more disconcerting.
     
  11. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    I wonder how this ME/CFS tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon of temporarily being unable to recall a word or name relates to the Jennifer Aniston neuron theory — the discovery by Rodrigo Quiroga that specific neurons in the brain may encode specific items (such as people, places or objects) that we recognize.
     
  12. Chriswolf

    Chriswolf Senior Member

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    It's interesting and yet at the same time does not fill me with a lot of confidence about how well my poor brain will fare under protracted conditions due to CFS.
     
  13. Old Bones

    Old Bones Senior Member

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    Here's another cognitive deficit that is disconcerting. Despite keeping my vehicles/appliances for years/decades, I have no idea which controls do what without being able to read the names on the various buttons, knobs or levers. If someone at the garage changes the dashboard settings in my car while testing them, the different look is overwhelmingly confusing, and I have to get out the manual to figure out how to turn them back to my preferences. I experience similar frustrations with software upgrades on my iPad.
     
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  14. Chriswolf

    Chriswolf Senior Member

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    I don't know how well I'd handle something like that psychologically speaking, it would take a lot of patience and inner reserves for that to not drag somebody down.
     
  15. shannah

    shannah Senior Member

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    I can relate to this one as well.

    I used to welcome learning new skills, new experiences, new things of all sorts. Now, I absolutely avoid anything new at all costs.

    Along the same line, if I move an item from it's usual place to another place or another room, it takes on a slightly different look and I can no longer remember how to operate it. Then I have to go back to the original spot that it was in and go through the motions of operating it there and then quickly go to new spot and perform the operation at the new spot. Sometimes, I have to do this more than once to get it right.

    This can be something as simple as moving a kitchen appliance from one side of the kitchen to the other, moving a DVD player from one room to another or using the same remote control for a cable box but in a different room.

    I remember when my son first got ill. The teacher called me in to view some things. They were learning simple math by using pictures of cookies. He would work really hard at adding chocolate chip cookies to get the right answer but when the cookies changed to oatmeal raisin, he would draw a complete blank and have to start the process all over again.

    So frustrating learning and relearning the basics of elementary things over and over and over.
     
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  16. Old Bones

    Old Bones Senior Member

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    The only good thing is that my cognitive problems have been going on for so long, they almost seem normal. In fact, I'm sometimes surprised when I realize other people (often much older than me) don't have the same difficulties. As a result, I have to be careful what I say. I recently complained to a group of seniors about how frustrating I found our city's new e-library (essentially an initiative to replace physical items such as books, magazines and CD's with digital access to the content). The members of the group told me to "take a course", and looked at me like I was from a different planet, or an idiot. I guess compared with them, I am.
     
  17. IntelligentImpulse

    IntelligentImpulse

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    What an interesting name for a theory. Perhaps this may be due to the failure of certain neurons (or if that theory is correct, a neuron) to fire appropriately. If only we understood the effects of brain fog on a neurological level, then perhaps we could begin drawing firmer conclusions.
     
  18. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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    That is exactly what I was thinking: if words or names are linked to a specific neuron or neurons in a network, then if that particular neuron is "having a bad day" and not firing properly, you may temporarily forget the word or name encoded by that neuron.

    In ME/CFS, due to factors such as brain inflammation, microglial activation or other aberrant conditions in the brain, it may be that neurons struggle to remain healthy and functional in this less than optimal brain environment; so as a result, every now and then, a neuron goes offline for short time because the neuron's health goes a bit under par, and then you temporarily lose access to the word or name linked to that neuron.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2016
    IntelligentImpulse likes this.
  19. u&iraok

    u&iraok Senior Member

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    I have a weird glitch in my brain so that when I want to say 'rubberband' I say 'umbrella'. Fortunately 'rubberband' is not a word used often!

    I also have very bad word recall and have to remember to say 'um' when I'm trying to think of the word or people will think I'm done talking and interrupt.
     

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