Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Dangerous Doorways


Ever since I first heard about it – less than a week ago – it just seems to be getting worse! Or maybe I’m just getting more aware of it?? - ‘What?’ you ask. Room Amnesia! Forgetting things as I go from one room to another. Sometimes also called… er… hmm… Well, you know what I mean, don’t you? Often supposed to be age-related…

BUT – here’s the news: It’s the doorway’s fault!

A team at the University of Notre Dame (USA) have done research on it, putting volunteers through various memory tests. The result shows that it is passing through a doorway that makes us forget.

…when you pass through a doorway, your mind compartmentalizes your actions into separate episodes. Having moved into a new episode, the brain archives the previous one, making it less available for access. It’s as if you slam a mental door…

It does not even have to be a real doorway. It applies to computer games as well.

And contrary to what is sometimes supposed, it does not seem to automatically help memory to go back to the original room either.

I heard about this on the radio last Friday. Not until today did I get round to checking up sources on the internet. You can read more at the Scientific American website.

My flat is not very big, but on the way from my bedroom to my study (or the other way round) I do pass through four doorways. No wonder I keep finding forgotten and unfinished ‘projects’ lying around…!

(Not to mention all the virtual doorways/ windows we bloggers keep popping in and out of!)

On some level I think I already knew. I’ve just been thinking of it the other way round, and as mainly a good thing: That having separate rooms for different activities can be of help to concentrate and not get distracted...


  1. I'm glad I've the van, only two doorways the shower and the loo. I've not got confused yet.

  2. Looks like we need to move into a van like Adrian's. Mind you I only have to go through one doorway to reach the hall and that's all it takes.
    Love, love this theory and am making in mine!

  3. I think this is a candidate for the blog post of the year! Well for the post that gives greatest peace of mind for those of us who have this affliction. I know (and am rather thankful) that it's nothing to do with age because I've had the problem for a very very long time and I wasn't always old. 'Though come to think of it my Mum always said that I was born with a pension book in my hand.

  4. I like being able to blame the doorway! But I do generally find it helps to return to the original location - especially if it involves a lot of stairs.

  5. it is getting worse for me too, and this sounds like a great theory, but what about when i am in the kitchen and turn around to go to the other side and can't remember why. i also open cabinets and then don't know why i did it, but that is a type of door. thinking on this one.... i agree this is a cracker jack post. love the door photo, the door to no where which is what i feel like i go through every day. sometimes i feel like Alice lost in wonderland.

  6. Scriptor: I suppose that with some things it might help to go back to the original place - like if you go to fetch something but forget what on the way, then when you go back you find yourself facing the same "problem" again, which makes you recall what it was you needed. In the experiments I think it was more about learning things in one room and then being asked to repeat them later; either having stayed in the same room all the time, or having passed through doorways in between.

  7. nice to know it's not my fault!
    Barbara, visiting from


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