2011.12.07 The doorway to my forgetful mind

Written by David Green.

By COLLEEN LEDDY

I was going to write about this a few weeks ago, but I forgot.

And then I saw a post on Facebook from Grace Tarala Johnston and I remembered I was going to write about forgetting.

Grace, you might remember, is married to Jeff Johnston who used to write for the Observer back in the early 90s. He moved on to the Benton Harbor paper before settling in at the Flint Journal. I forget what he’s doing now.

All that is neither here nor there, but I figure if you remember Grace and Jeff you might wonder what they are up to. They’re in Flushing now and are the parents of four beautiful young daughters whom Grace was probably referring to when she posted this:

“I hid those gifts so well I can't find them!”

“Hate when that happens,” commented a friend.

 “I do that every year,” said another.

I burst out laughing when I read the next comment.

“I do this too and it amazes me. One year we were sitting down to Easter dinner and my mom suddenly jumped up and remembered where she hid some pink knee high socks for my sister and I the previous Christmas. LOL It was too funny and we still laugh about this.”

Grace commiserated with her friend who then commented, “I just get wackier. I am going for the dotty old lady. I embrace it.”

I’m not really ready to embrace my dottiness, especially if people think of it as  “mentally unbalanced” rather than “amiably eccentric.” I’m much more inclined to want to conquer it, especially now that I know what causes me to forget why I’m standing in front of the computer with no idea what I was about to look up before walking into the room. 

My daughter Rosie broke the news a few weeks ago. She told me when you walk through a doorway it makes you forget things. She read about it online. It’s all over the internet. Here’s a report from the Huffington Post:

You know when you walk into a room to do something and suddenly forget why you're there? It's not just you, recent research says the physical act of going through that doorway could be linked to forgetting things.

"Entering or exiting through a doorway serves as an 'event boundary' in the mind, which separates episodes of activity and files them away," study researcher Gabriel Radvansky, a psychology professor at the University of Notre Dame, said... "Recalling the decision or activity that was made in a different room is difficult because it has been compartmentalized."

During the study, researchers used three experiments, including one that tested out students' recall when moving between tables in the same room. They found that less was forgotten between tables than when the students went from room to room. Results were published in The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.

“Sounds very plausible,” said one reader about the Huffington Post story. “Works too when opening the refrigerator door. Now I know why I stand there looking. (It was for the pie I had forgotten I had finished off yesterday).” 

I noticed comments on several sites about how opening a refrigerator door has the same effect on memory as walking through a doorway.

“...that's why I forget what is in the refrigerator,” said one commenter.

“I'm not sure,” countered another. ‘Hoping something new miraculously appears’ vs. ‘forgetting what's in there"‘are two different things. Right?”

I am not remembering to go to bed early, something I remind myself to do daily, but after reading this article, I have been stopping myself before going through a doorway and repeating what it is I need to remember. 

“Sheets and extension cord. Sheets and extension cord. Sheets and extension cord.” Over and over I say it so I won’t forget as I head to the annex basement through two doorways from the library.

The Huffington Post article had better advice to avoid that problem:

So, if you never want to forget anything, just don't leave the room you're in right now, and you will be just fine.

  • Front.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.carry.casket
    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016