Forgot your keys or your mobile phone? That shouldn’t be a problem, right? Just go back and get it. But, sometimes, a funny thing happens… After you enter a room you forget what you were looking for. “What am I doing here? What was I searching for?” You forgot everything in less than 30 seconds. Ring a bell? Don’t worry, this happens to all of us. You’re not going crazy, it’s just a common thing which scientists call “the Doorway Effect” and it’s actually a good sign: it means your brain works the way it was supposed to!
A study from 2011 proved that the Doorway Effect happens when our brain tries to process multiple tasks at the same time. 55 college students were asked to play a computer game in which they had to move through a virtual building. They had to collect and carry different objects from one room to another. As the participants moved through the rooms, a picture of an object appeared on the screen. If the object shown was the one they were carrying or the one they had just put down, they had to click “Yes.” Seems rather easy, right? Well, it was actually discovered that walking through a doorway made people forget what they were doing. And this short memory loss wasn’t related to the distance. The question “Is that what you’re carrying?” was asked in different occasions: after people had walked a certain distance within a room, and a certain distance between rooms. While inside the room, the students’ memories remained untouched. But crossing a doorstep was very confusing.
The conclusion of this study was that doorways are actually cut-off points where two separate things collide. This can be compared to a wall (literally!): what happens on the other side of the wall is perceived by our brain as a different environment and usually requires a lot of attention. And we don’t pay so much attention to an easy task like going back to the kitchen because we forgot our keys, right?
So … Next time you enter a room and you forget what you were searching for, don’t panic, it’s just the Doorway Effect playing tricks on you. Scientists are still trying to figure out if this effect can be avoided but they haven’t come up with a solution yet. And, don’t worry! We all remember what Kevin’s mom forgot, right?
Do you have any suggestions? If you do, let us know!