Friday, December 16, 2011

Forgetting why you went into the other room

 Doorways and memory loss

Comedian Bill Cosby tells a great story of looking for his glasses. He looked all over the living room then walked into another room to look there. Once in the other room, he can't remember why he went into that room in the first place. If I recall correctly he blamed the whole mess on his kids driving him crazy. 

Researcher Gabriel A. Radvansky and colleagues at the University of Notre Dame conducted an experiment to see if the act of walking through a doorway actually decreases ones memory. (Published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology in 2011: show me the article.)

Their findings showed that the process of walking through a doorway did in fact lower experimental subjects short term memory. Subjects that walked through a doorway did much worse than subjects that walked the same distance without passing through a doorway. The research indicated that the act of going through a doorway compartmentalizes one's memory into separate activities weakening memory access to what was just learned in the previous room.

Least I forget, Bill Cosby was looking for his reading glasses that traveled with him from room to room perched on his head.

A few books on memory improvement that I recommend to my patients. Helpful, but they do take work. You have to learn how to improve your memory:


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