The Boundary Effect: Entering a New Room Makes You Forget Things

As if we needed a study to tell us this

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A new study shows that walking through doorways makes you forget important things

“I know I came in here for something, but I can’t remember what it is …”

If you’ve ever said something like this, you’ve probably experienced an “event boundary.” Many, if not all, of us have had the experience of walking into a room and forgetting exactly what it is we came in there to do.

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The University of Notre Dame in Indiana recently conducted a study on this phenomenon, concluding that walking through doorways causes memory to lapse. As researcher Gabriel Radvansky explained: “Entering or exiting through a doorway serves as an ‘event boundary’ in the mind, which separates episodes of activity and files them away.”

That means that by the time you’re staring blankly at the kitchen counter, your brain has already moved on from the thought that led you in there, and you can’t always effectively backtrack. “Recalling the decision or activity that was made in a different room is difficult because it has been compartmentalized,” Radvansky said.

A few suggestions for breaking through event boundaries, on behalf of NewsFeed: mentally repeat the decision or action as you enter the room, announce what you’re about to do, or move to a one-room apartment.

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