Why Do We Forget What We're Doing The Minute We Enter A Room?

It's not our fault apparently. Or is it? We can't remember...


It's annoying, isn't it? You walk into a room to get something, and the second you walk through the door you completely forget why you're there.

For years we've been panicking that it's just another sign that we're getting old. Add that to the fact that we've started having two-day hangovers. (WHYGODWHY?) and we're officially spooked that our youth is slipping through our fingers. 

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But apparently it's not our fault. Up until recently, scientists thought our memories were similar to a filing system, and everything was stored individually in their own little compartments. It was believed that when you wanted to remember a particular memory, you could just access its "file" and the memory would be stored there.

But that's not true at all, according to new reports. Science folk have now realized that the brain is much more complex than that, and you'd be better off likening it to a computer, with dozens of tasks and applications running at the same time. It's these simultaneous activities that cause irritating moments of forgetfulness, especially when you move to a different room. This has now been dubbed by scientists as the 'Doorway Effect.'

Researchers from Indiana's University of Notre Dame got 55 university students to play a computer game in which they moved through a virtual building; collecting and carrying objects from room to room. Every so often as the participants moved around the space, a picture of an object popped up on the screen.

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If the object shown was the one they were carrying or had just put down, the participants clicked 'yes.' Sometimes these pictures appeared after the participant had walked into a room; other times they appeared while the participant was still in the middle of a room.

Then, the experiment was repeated in real life. The results of both tests matched—walking through a doorway made the students forget what they were doing, and scientists concluded that our brains see doorways as a cut-off point.

So you never have to worry about forgetting stuff again. Hurrah!


This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.

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