Walking Through Doorways Can Make You Forget

2 December, 2011 at 07:44 | Posted in Body & Mind, Funny things :-), Science | Leave a comment
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By Mimi Nguyen Ly
Epoch Times Staff

Ever entered a room only to find you can’t remember what you were going to do? Walking through doorways can cause memory lapses, suggests new research from the United States.

Ever entered a room only to find you can’t remember what you were going to do? Walking through doorways can cause memory lapses, suggests new research from the United States.

“Entering or exiting through a doorway serves as an ‘event boundary’ in the mind, which separates episodes of activity and files them away,” says study co-author Gabriel Radvansky in a press release.

In three experiments, college students undertook memory exercises while crossing a room, and while exiting a doorway.

In the first experiment, subjects moved from one room to another in a virtual world; they picked an object on a table in the first room and swapped it for another object on a table in the second room. Then they did the same thing, but this time they did not have to cross a doorway as the two tables were in the same room.

The results showed that participants forgot more in the memory exercises after walking through a doorway to another room, than when moving the same distance across one room.

“Recalling the decision or activity that was made in a different room is difficult because it has been compartmentalized,” Radvansky explains.

The second experiment was set in a real-world environment. The students had to choose objects from a table and hide them in boxes. They then moved the same distance either within the room, or through a doorway to another room. The results again suggested that memory was reduced when walking through a doorway.

The third experiment set out to test whether the effect on memory was actually caused by the doorways or by a change in environment. Past research has demonstrated that environment can influence memory with improved memory when recall took place in the same environment as where the information was learned.

The students had to cross several doorways, ending up in the original room where they started. However, this set of results did not indicate any improvement in memory, suggesting that the act of moving through doorways may serve as a physical influence on how our minds store information.

In their paper, the researchers concluded that the event boundary created by walking through a doorway initiates a mental update that can reduce recall of information from a prior event.

“Thus, overall, it is quite clear that memory for recently experienced information is affected by the structure of the surrounding environment,” they wrote.

The findings were published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.

via Walking Through Doorways Can Make You Forget | Beyond Science | Science | Epoch Times

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