Memory and Context – “The Doorway effect”

Comment: I read this article on “the doorway effect” which refers to a finding that at times entering a doorway may impact what we remember. However, it is not just doorways, the phenomena describe is what is termed context-dependent memory. That is we often code memory to a specific context. If I return to visit the home I grow up in for many years of my life, memories and sometimes behaviours can be unconsciously activated. The full article was posted on the ABC News web site which is taken from The Conversation

Do doorways make us forget why we got up? We test the science

The doorway effect

We’ve all experienced a situation like this. Although these lapses in memory might seem entirely random, some researchers have identified the culprit as the actual doorways.

Many studies have investigated how memory might be affected by passing through doorways.

Astoundingly, these studies show doorways cause forgetting, and this effect is so consistent it has come to be known as the “doorway effect“.

When we move from one room to another, the doorway represents the boundary between one context (such as the living room) and another (the kitchen). We use boundaries to help segment our experience into separate events, so we can more easily remember them later.

These “event boundaries” also help define what might be important in one situation from what might be important in another. Hence, when a new event begins, we essentially flush out the information from the previous event because it might not be relevant anymore.

In other words, our desire for popcorn is connected with the event in the living room (the TV show) and that connection is disrupted once we arrive in the kitchen.

If this topic interests you click here for full ABC post