Write Down Ideas Before You Leave The Room

Ever have a brilliant idea and then walk into another room only to find your idea has vanished? A new study suggests it’s not just you: Walking through a doorway makes it harder to remember thoughts from the previous room.

Photo by Dominic Alves.

In two studies, researchers found that participants’ memory performance was poorer after they walked through a doorway than if they stayed put in a room. The researchers theorise that the doorway serves as an event boundary where new memory episodes are created, thus hampering recall of prior memories.

Another interpretation, BPS Research Digest says, is that the increased forgetting wasn’t about the “boundary effect of a doorway” but that the context had changed. In other words, participants had better memories about objects in the room where they created those objects.

Yesterday I had a brilliant idea — I think. I can’t remember because between having the idea on my first floor then walking up the stairs to my office, the idea vanished. I blame the stairs.

So next time you want to remember something, don’t leave the room before you write it down.

How Walking Through a Doorway Increases Forgetting [Research Digest]

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