science

This is why you keep forgetting what you were doing when you enter a new room


Scientists have long sought to explain why it is that humans sometimes go into a room to do something important, but forgetting the task as soon as they enter.

Previously, the phenomenon was attributed to the “doorway effect” – suggesting we tend to forget items of recent significance after crossing a boundary. The boundary may be physical like a door, or it could be a virtual one like switching between tabs on an internet browser. The explanation came to prominence in 2011 after a study by researchers at the University of Notre Dame.

But now a follow-up study by Bond University has found that the effect of “doorways” alone on forgetfulness was not as significant as earlier studies claimed it to be, thereby providing a new perspective on the phenomenon.

The scientists found that it was not just the door itself or the act of walking through it, but rather the change in context that caused the brain to drop the information that it considered irrelevant.

The research team conducted four studies – two using real-world locations and two in which participants wore virtual reality headsets and moved through various rooms in a 3D environment.



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