Your Mental Computer
The business about visualizing words, shapes, colors, and so on made me thing about other quirks in the way our minds work.
One that fascinates me is how we pull things out of our memory storage. Dementia aside, it seems like more than half of people's mental blocks (thinkos/brainos/brain farts) are about proper names.
Does it ever happen that when you're trying to remember a name, your brain will keep feeding you the wrong one? For example, you're trying to remember who played "Beaver" and your brain supplies "Johnny Mathis" (instead of "Jerry Mathers"). You know darned well that's not right, but the close-but-no-cigar name keeps popping up and getting in the way of the right answer.
So what do you folks do to break a mental block? My method is visual or situational. If I'm trying to think of a name, I'll visually remember the person in different situations, & mull over other details-- spouse's name, the sound of the voice, & whatever trivia I know about that person. If it's singers, I think about all the songs they've done. If it's actors, I'll think about the roles they've played, and the other actors with whom they've featured. If it's someone I've actually encountered, I'll re-play time or times that I've been around them.
Another think-aid I use is syllables. Before I can think of the name or word, I can usually come up with how many syllables it has, and where the stress is. I'll usually come up with it faster if I think about the rhythm of the word.
DH uses a completely different M.O. He goes through the alphabet letter by letter, mulling over each one until he hits on the right initial sound. When he gets to the right letter, he usually knows it. Sometimes the name will pop up once he gets the first letter, and sometimes he has to keep thinking on it. We were playing some word game with a bunch of friends a while back, and one my friends said she was going through the alphabet trying to come up with the particular word she wanted. Apparently DH isn't the only one.
The Johnny Mathis/Jerry Mathers example is one I just made up, not one that actually blocked me. It would be typical, though as the substituted name fills both initial letter and rhythm slots.
I'll usually come up with what I want fairly soon, but occasionally I won't come up with the information until my conscious mind is occupied with something else. I'll be planning my shopping list or something like that, and suddenly the name I'd been looking for will pop into my head. Odd, isn't it, how a person's unconscious mind will keep working on recall, searching memory files even when the conscious part moves on to something else? Once in a while I'll even wake up in middle of the night with the answer to something I've been thinking about-- not just mental block things, but answers to problems or better ways to accomplish things with which I'd been struggling. Once in a while the "solutions" seem better when it's 3 A.M. and I'm half asleep-- but they're generally valid.