If you forget what you were going to do, or get, or find, after entering a room, then blame your doorways. University of Notre Dame Psychology Professor Gabriel Radvansky has suggested that passing through doorways is the cause of these memory lapses.
"Entering or exiting through a doorway serves as an ‘event boundary’ in the mind, which separates episodes of activity and files them away," Radvansky explained.
"Recalling the decision or activity that was made in a different room is difficult because it has been compartmentalized," she stated.
Conducting three experiments in both real and virtual environments, Radvansky’s subjects – all college students – performed memory tasks while crossing a room and while exiting a doorway.
In the first experiment, subjects used a virtual environment and moved from one room to another, selecting an object on a table and exchanging it for an object at a different table. They did the same thing while simply moving across a room but not crossing through a doorway.
Radvansky found that the subjects forgot more after walking through a doorway compared to moving the same distance across a room, suggesting that the doorway or "event boundary" impedes one’s ability to retrieve thoughts or decisions made in a different room.
The study was published recently in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.