SMU professor studies mental lapses like Perry’s

Alan Brown, psychology professor at SMU's Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, explains the science behind Rick Perry's debate gaffe, and why it happens to everyone.

By Steve Blow

Now that the politics of Rick Perry’s brain freeze have been thoroughly analyzed, let’s look at the psychology of it.

  We happen to have an authority on the subject in our own backyard. In fact, Southern Methodist University psychology professor Alan Brown has just written an entire book on this all-too-familiar phenomenon.

The Tip of the Tongue State, his academic treatise is called.

 Researchers refer to the mental lapses as TOTs. But for now, a new name has taken hold — “a Perry moment.”...

We seem to blank out worst when a similar word blocks the way. “Some researchers have called them ‘ugly stepsister words,’” Brown said. “They keep the prince from finding Cinderella.”...