from University of CA, Berkeley Wellness Letter      April 2012    Study by University of Notre Dame, published in Journal of Experimental Psychology.

Sound familiar?  The good news is, you’re not alone—it’s said by young and old. 

The Notre Dame study offers a short, sweet explanation:  It’s not you. 

It’s the doorway that’s to blame.

Lead researcher Gabriel Radvansky designed a series of experiments in which college students moved through both real and computer-generated virtual rooms after having examined objects that were then hidden from them. 

It was harder for students to recall the objects they’d seen after they’d passed through a doorway into a new room than it was for them to recall objects after they’d traveled an equal distance in the same room.

The structure of the environment affects the ability to recall recently experienced information.  Doorways, in particular, act as “event boundaries” in the mind, compartmentalizing memories and disrupting the train of thought as a person walks between rooms.

Most other factors in the environment have a less dramatic impact on recall.

Radvansky doesn’t think forgetting is necessarily a bad thing.  He says, “Sure, it’s bad when you want to remember and you forget.  But the reason we don’t hold onto things when we go from one event to another is that those things are often no longer relevant.  This kind of forgetting helps us switch gears from one situation to another.”

If you prefer to remember why you enter another room, you might try repeating to yourself what your purpose is as you cross a new threshold.

My Take on the situation:  I’m partial to Bill Cosby’s hypothesis regarding the above and favor his solution:  Sit down. 

Cosby was puzzled why he couldn’t remember what he came into another room for until he went back into the original room and sat down again.

He concluded that as we age, our brains slip lower and lower in our bodies.  So when we sit down again, we physically jar our memory/brains because that’s where they are now—in our behinds.

Works for me.

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