Have you ever walked into a room to get something, and then you can’t remember what in the world you needed? Good news – it’s not just you. We’ve all been there. You’ll be relieved to hear it has less to do with your cognitive skills and more to do with the way human brains are wired. In fact, psychologists even have a name for it: “The Doorway Effect.”
In a study from Notre Dame, Psychology Professor Gabriel Radvansky and his research team showed how walking through a doorway impacts our memory – even if the doorway is in a virtual environment. They studied participants in both virtual and real environments, and gave them items to pick up and put in boxes. Sometimes, the boxes were positioned across the same room and sometimes they were in other rooms. There was no change in the distance the participants had to travel. The only difference was whether they had to pass through a doorway.
In both the virtual and real conditions of the study, participants had significantly lower recall of what items they had picked up and deposited when they walked through a doorway – even a virtual doorway where participants had not actually physically moved from their seats. Keep in mind that the participants in this study were college students, so age wasn’t a factor here. This is a good time for those of us no longer in our 20’s to breathe a sigh of relief.
How to instantly improve your memory.
According to researchers, when you go through a doorway it creates an “event boundary,” which is like hitting the reset button on your brain. That’s why you can’t remember what you were intending to get just a minute ago. Want to avoid that frustration? All you need to do is say out loud the item that you need to retrieve when you pass through the doorway. I know it sounds silly, but I’ve tried this, and it never fails. You just have to remember to do it! Let me know how it works for you.