Its the door!

My mother emailed this to me, I presume, as something that seemed amusing:


Ever walk into a room with some purpose in mind, only to completely forget what that purpose was?

Turns out, doors themselves are to blame for these strange memory lapses.

Psychologists at the University of Notre Dame have discovered that passing through a doorway triggers what’s known as an event boundary in the mind, separating one set of thoughts and memories from the next.

Your brain files away the thoughts you had in the previous room and prepares a blank slate for the new locale.

So it’s not aging, or senility, or old age, it’s the damn door!

Thank goodness for scientific studies like this!


My mother thought this was amusing, but there is actually some truth in it, which nicely fits into the jigsaw puzzle with what we know now about memory, sight/vision and the ‘power’ of narratives (especially ones with have chapters with beginnings and ends).

I have always wondered about ‘chapters’ and books – as an analogy of walking from one room to another, with the ‘expectation’ that there will either be continuity or thematic continuity, if the rooms are in the same house, for example. From a VERY young age, we (at least, where I went to primary school) were taught about paragraphs with beginnings, middles and ends, and the power of writing that had a very strong first paragraph and last, or first sentence and last in a paragraph – to the point where we were told (my memory of just this example has kicked into gear!) that the paragraph should be able to ‘stand on its own merits’ with only the first and the last sentence, as the middle bits are simply clarification of the latter and former.

I am wondering if the fact that memory is ‘chunked up’ into chapter-like portions, similar to below, naturally, or it is some sort of continually self-reinforcing, pan-cultural, meme – a question of nature v nurture.

Do we chunk our memory because that is the best way of using it (the argument *against* gets stronger, particularly by the Homo Evolutis scientists, who argue that our offspring are changing they way they consume and manage ‘data’ – similarly those who are looking at the Autism and Aspergers’ Syndrome spectrum) or are we ‘taught’ to do this, because it is something that we have always done and it worked for us (note, use of past tense)? Is this meme of ‘memory chunking’ breaking down in transmission capability, because of the demands that modern society is placing on the brain to assimilate more and more data and/or information, at the ‘cost’ of the capability to turn that data and information into knowledge that can be used or applied, through the process of wisdom?

Doing what we always did may not get us what we always got – it may get us extinct!

I find it interesting from the change management perspective, because much of how we seek to engage with people is from the comfortable position that there is commonality in the way we construct memory, vision etc (translating into ‘experience’), when it is likely that the opposite is true and becoming more prevalent. Is the intergenerational divide getting wider, simply because of the way that our grandchildren’s brains are evolving faster than we can change our behaviours and underlying assumptions/values to accommodate? How will we bridge the gap, and are we too busy to do it ourselves, and have to pay a change practitioner to tell us how to do it, and hold our hand while we do (at least at work, anyway)?

My head hurts… time for a glass of wine…

Poster with a crossed out picture of a velociraptor, claiming that there has been 25915000000 days since the last dinosaur 'incident'


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