Don’t leave the room, you may forget what you were doing!

Have you ever gotten up to go get something and when you got where you were going you forgot what you came for?


Did your mother ever tell you just go back where you were and think about what you were doing and you will remember?


Well now there is actual research that says your memory is not any worse than it was and your mother was right – again!


It is called an “event boundary” that affects how you remember. Essentially as you leave the room you were working in you go out a door and it is an “event boundary” for your memory. You leave the room and you forget until you go back to that room.


“The key finding is that memory performance was poorer after travelling through an open doorway, compared with covering the same distance within the same room. “Walking through doorways serves as an event boundary, thereby initiating the updating of one’s event model [i.e. the creation of a new episode in memory]” the researchers said.”  (Radvansky, G., Krawietz, S., and Tamplin, A. (2011). Walking through doorways causes forgetting: Further explorations. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 64 (8), 1632-1645 DOI: 10.1080/17470218.2011.571267


HR administrators and building designers might take this into account in regard to employee productivity. How are those cubicles affecting task memory?  When you just step out for coffee in the middle of a complex project will you retain thought patterns critical to the task. If you use a remote headset and roam around the building as you talk, are you forgetting small details as you go through doors?


Is that why programmers sleep on the floor and live next to their computers during a big project? (So I am told by people who employ programmers.)


This will be a big deal today when I get to my office. I will announce that I am not an old guy with a faulty memory, I am just busy and have to go through a lot of doors so from now on everybody should come to me instead. Let’s see how that works out!


Call your mother and tell her she was right but stay in the room for the call or you might forget why you called.


For more information, contact Bill Weaver, 602-381-9900.

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