The doorway effect demonstrates that memory is easily disrupted by both our location and what we are doing.
When passing through doorways, our brains ‘file’ memories away, making it difficult to recall what we were doing, research finds.
As a result, active memories are shunted out of consciousness.
Professor Gabriel Radvansky, the study’s first author, explained:
“Entering or exiting through a doorway serves as an ‘event boundary’ in the mind, which separates episodes of activity and files them away.
Recalling the decision or activity that was made in a different room is difficult because it has been compartmentalized.”
The results clearly showed that passing through doorways was bad for people’s memory.
The doorway effect
The doorway effect shows how our memories are linked to the location we are in. The study also shows how changing both our physical and mental environment together disrupts memory.
The moral of the doorway effect is: to preserve memory, don’t leave the room!
The study was published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology (Radvansky et al., 2016).