You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 9:32 a.m.

Rick Perry's brain freeze: University of Michigan professor offers an explanation

By Kellie Woodhouse

A University of Michigan neuroscientist offered an explanation to the New York Times regarding Texas Gov. Rick Perry's memory lapse at a recent Republican presidential debate: It was brain freeze.

During a debate Wednesday at Oakland University, Perry couldn't recall the name for the Department of Energy, which he has repeatedly stated should be eliminated.

Trying to recall the name, Perry stammered, paused and then eventually changed the subject.

“A lot of things are going on when we try to recall memories, and problems at any stage could lead to failure," Daniel Weissman, a U-M professor who studies attention, told the Times.

it was a pretty everyday experience,’’ Weissman continued. “We’ve all had this happen.’’

Read the Times report here.

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 3:34 p.m.

The diagnosis of Rick Perry's Speech Disorder : I do not agree with the findings and conclusions of this New York professor who studies problems like attention and cognition. I have witnessed this speech while watching the T.V. broadcast of the event. This is a problem that is aasociated with mental fluidity; the fluid dynamics of brain functions that contributes to eloquent speech. I have studied Speech Disorders. Speech has the characteristics of water that is in motion. For eloquent speech, we need streaming flow of water, and the flow must not be impeded. When a thought, idea, or mental concept is communicated in spoken words or speech, it requires interaction between specific anatomical areas of the brain. The flow is impeded when the different parts of brain are not sending signals or communicating in an effective manner. It is not indicative of age-related cognitive impairment and it is not a sign of dementia. It happens to several young students all the time. While I was a student, I used to compete very often and have participated in several elocution/debating events. My opinion in this matter is that of Rick Perry's lack of originality. He was not communicating an original idea, thought or mental concept. He was simply trying to deliver a speech prepared for him by a different person. Rick Perry has not applied his mind to study the problem and he has not used his mind to discover the solutions to the problem. The suggestion to eliminate certain departments of the government was not his original idea that was truly conceived by him. If he truly desires to become an eloquent speaker, he must set his mind free and gain the ability of original thinking to know the problems that the country is facing and to offer solutions to those problems. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

J. A. Pieper

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 2:01 a.m.

I think he is beginning to show age related dementia, and since we recognize this now, way before the primaries, how could we vote anyone into this office when this characteristic is already evident?

Ann English

Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 12:56 a.m.

The mainstream media coddles candidates they wish to see elected, never giving those candidates hard questions, like they do candidates they do not want to see elected. Obama is a real bumbler when it comes to answering hard questions without a teleprompter, often putting a lot of &quot;ah&quot;s into answers you don't hear about in the mainstream media, who do not want you to know about Obama's weaknesses.


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 10:19 p.m.

An extremely independent researcher (me) offered an alternative hypothesis: the man is an idiot.


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 7:35 p.m.

To his credit, Perry was just on the David Letterman show reading the &quot;top 10 reasons&quot; why he screwed up.. My favorite: &quot; It's hard to concentrate when mitt romney is smiling at you. He's one handsome man&quot;.


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 6:20 p.m.

I just have to say that.........................oops, can't remember what I was going to say.


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 6:19 p.m.

My take is he ran out of neurons.


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 6:12 p.m.

All those darn crazy leftist liberal socialist college professors always defending those crazy democrats... oh, wait.


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 6:08 p.m.

If only he had a teleprompter Obama...


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 8:59 p.m.

Oh c'mon and get real... Pre -election people had plenty of opportunity to see Obama in live, unscripted interactions talking about substantive matters without making a complete ass of himself. That's a large part of why he won so massively ( although the world--- and sore losers domestically - have not cooperated much since)


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 5:49 p.m.

His wife defended the episode today by pointing out that he DID remember their recent anniversary. Talk about &quot; lowering the bar&quot;.

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 5:24 p.m.

I'd like to make 3 points about Perry....He is conservative...he is from Texas....and...and...ummmm.....errrr.


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 5:13 p.m.

I have to say that of all the GOP hopefuls Perry seems the most contrived.


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 5:07 p.m.

Scary. He wouldn't have forgotten that if he had ever had a conversation with his advisors like, &quot;I really think we can do away with that department, because we don't have a problem with energy in this country...&quot; or &quot;radioactive waste management is unnecessary&quot;. So what is revealed is that he has NO input into the policies he is spouting, he's just a parrot. Does he even know what the Commerce Department does, another one he's slated for demolition? The department that includes the small business development, international trade, all the agencies that should be jumpstarting the US economy? I doubt it.

Kai Petainen

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 4:57 p.m.

I was going to add something to this conversation... but... oh... hmmm... I forgot what it was. oops.


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 4:53 p.m.

Maybe he's just not terribly bright.


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 5:09 p.m.

He is a male cheerleader with a 2.5 GPA. You be the judge.

hut hut

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 4:44 p.m.

I really wish he would have been a better Republican candidate, but alas, like his Texas predecessor he's not too bright. As is said in Texas, he's all hat and no horse. Used car salesman. Snake oil. His drawl sounds so affected and a lot like Bush 2. Wasn't 8 years of &quot;bring it on&quot; enough?


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 4:13 p.m.

I'm no fan of Perry's, but I did feel bad for the was pretty cringe-worthy watching him. Speaking from a person that forgets names of things all the time I'm glad I wasn't in his shoes. Although my husband has gotten pretty good at guessing what &quot;whatchamacallit&quot; I'm talking about at any one time.

Basic Bob

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 4:07 p.m.

I thought a brain freeze was the same as an ice cream headache.

Mush Room

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 3:56 p.m.

It's not the brain-freeze the bothers me, everyone has done that. It's his proposals: a ridiculous flat tax proposal, his desire to dismantle Social Security and much more. I don't think any of these nutcases stands much of a chance against Obama.


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 3:44 p.m.

I find no fault with his brain freezing, just his brain in general.

Ron Granger

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 3:37 p.m.

Perry needs the in-ear prompter that many believe they saw Bush wearing in debates.

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 3:36 p.m.

brain freeze or not we must not lose sight of Perry's strong suit. ...creating and nurturing an atmosphere where minimum wage jobs without health benefits can flourish.

Don B. Arfkahk

Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 9:55 a.m.

I agree. What is better than the right to be paid less? For me, I mean. I get rich by paying teenagers less than would be necessary to sustain their physical existence. My great great grandfather had to feed his slaves. Fortunately, in today's world, I can leave that responsibility to parents, who will soon be working for me as well, once their unemployment, savings, and hope run dry. They in turn will be fed by food stamps, which will be funded by other workers who have somehow managed to avoid slave wages, for now at least - once everyone is working slave wages, the program will be shut down and they will all eat dust. I'll have to hire a lot more cops and soldiers to shoot them when they complain, which sucks because I'll have to feed them to ensure they stay on my side, but hey - better to feed thousands than millions!

Ann English

Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 12:50 a.m.

Minimum wage laws hurt teenagers more than anyone else. They keep teenagers from getting jobs. Hiring people is expensive, so we should be bigger assets to a company than liabilities to it.

Don B. Arfkahk

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 3:29 p.m.

Cute theory, but reality is that actors sometimes forget their lines.


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 3:16 p.m.

I saw that &quot;brain freeze&quot; explanation in the TIMES...and it was based on the numbing effects of repetitive activities....Which running for president ( or BEING president!!) is not! A far better explantion is that Perry is simply a very dim bulb.

hut hut

Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 4:46 p.m.

But like Perry, you're incredibly qualified!


Fri, Nov 11, 2011 : 3:18 p.m.

I meant 'explanation&quot; ( see--even I could quickly rectify a short term &quot;brain freeze', and i'm not running for anything)