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Walking Through Doorways Causes Forgetting

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  • David Sunfellow
    NHNE Wavemaker News List Current Members: 541 Keep up with all the news in NHNE s universe, visit NHNE Pulse: http://nhne-pulse.org/todays-news/ Subscribe /
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 21, 2011
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      *
      WALKING THROUGH DOORWAYS CAUSES FORGETTING, NEW RESEARCH SHOWS*

      By Susan Guibert
      Notre Dame News
      November 16, 2011

      http://nhne-pulse.org/walking-through-doorways-causes-forgetting/

      Original Link
      <http://newsinfo.nd.edu/news/27476-walking-through-doorways-causes-forgetting-new-research-shows/>

      We've all experienced it: The frustration of entering a room and
      forgetting what we were going to do. Or get. Or find.

      New research from University of Notre Dame Psychology Professor Gabriel
      Radvansky suggests 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 explains.

      "Recalling the decision or activity that was made in a different room is
      difficult because it has been compartmentalized."

      The study was published recently in the Quarterly Journal of
      Experimental Psychology.

      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 second experiment in a real-world setting required subjects to
      conceal in boxes the objects chosen from the table and move either
      across a room or travel the same distance and walk through a doorway.
      The results in the real-world environment replicated those in the
      virtual world: walking through a doorway diminished subjects' memories.

      The final experiment was designed to test whether doorways actually
      served as event boundaries or if one's ability to remember is linked to
      the environment in which a decision -- in this case, the selection of an
      object -- was created. Previous research has shown that environmental
      factors affect memory and that information learned in one environment is
      retrieved better when the retrieval occurs in the same context. Subjects
      in this leg of the study passed through several doorways, leading back
      to the room in which they started. The results showed no improvements in
      memory, suggesting that the act of passing through a doorway serves as a
      way the mind files away memories.

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      Published by David Sunfellow
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