[div class=attrib]From Scientific American:[end-div]
The French poet Paul Valéry once said, “The purpose of psychology is to give us a completely different idea of the things we know best.” In that spirit, consider a situation many of us will find we know too well: You’re sitting at your desk in your office at home. Digging for something under a stack of papers, you find a dirty coffee mug that’s been there so long it’s eligible for carbon dating. Better wash it. You pick up the mug, walk out the door of your office, and head toward the kitchen. By the time you get to the kitchen, though, you’ve forgotten why you stood up in the first place, and you wander back to your office, feeling a little confused—until you look down and see the cup.
So there’s the thing we know best: The common and annoying experience of arriving somewhere only to realize you’ve forgotten what you went there to do. We all know why such forgetting happens: we didn’t pay enough attention, or too much time passed, or it just wasn’t important enough. But a “completely different” idea comes from a team of researchers at the University of Notre Dame. The first part of their paper’s title sums it up: “Walking through doorways causes forgetting.”
Gabriel Radvansky, Sabine Krawietz and Andrea Tamplin seated participants in front of a computer screen running a video game in which they could move around using the arrow keys. In the game, they would walk up to a table with a colored geometric solid sitting on it. Their task was to pick up the object and take it to another table, where they would put the object down and pick up a new one. Whichever object they were currently carrying was invisible to them, as if it were in a virtual backpack.??Sometimes, to get to the next object the participant simply walked across the room. Other times, they had to walk the same distance, but through a door into a new room. From time to time, the researchers gave them a pop quiz, asking which object was currently in their backpack. The quiz was timed so that when they walked through a doorway, they were tested right afterwards. As the title said, walking through doorways caused forgetting: Their responses were both slower and less accurate when they’d walked through a doorway into a new room than when they’d walked the same distance within the same room.
[div class=attrib]Read the entire article here.[end-div]
[div class=attrib]Image: Doorway, Titicaca, Bolivia. Courtesy of M.Gerra Assoc.[end-div]