What happens when we know that there is something that we forgot but we can't remember what it was?

What happens when we know that there is something that we forgot but we can't remember what it was?

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I think it happens for everyone that sometimes we go to a room and forget why we went there. Is there any research or article on this?

It is a phenomenon known as room amnesia, some research has shown that your brain may use physical barriers like the room and doorways as a way to compartmentalize thoughts. One article summarizes it here:

The researchers say that when you pass through a doorway, your mind compartmentalizes your actions into separate episodes. Having moved into a new episode, the brain archives the previous one, making it less available for access. It's as if you slam a mental door between what you knew and… what was I saying?

This is the research.

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Why We Forget The Things We Learn And How To Remember More Effectively

Why do we often forget the things we learn? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Robert Frost, Professional instructional systems designer, on Quora:

Learning comes down to two things:

1) Learning happens because of repetition.

2) Learning involves connecting new information to existing information.

Information is stored in the brain in networks of cells called neurons. When you think about an item, the neurons associated with that item are excited. They grow projecting tentacle like structures called dendrites. Dendrites are used to receive information. If a dendrite gets near another neuron there can be a connection (they don't actually touch, but it is close) between the dendrite and the axon of another neuron (the axon is used to send information). This connection allows them to share information.

So, the more you think about something, the more connections can be formed - those connections allow easier and faster access to the information and can create associations between different pieces of information, enhancing understanding.

Information is easy to access when there are many strong pathways to that information. That means we need to think about something often enough to build strong dendritic pathways and we need to connect that information to other information in our brain.

Think about something often enough and its recall can become automatic. For example, we don't have to put conscious thought into recalling the alphabet. We've built strong pathways and we use the information often enough that those pathways are well maintained.

But when we don't use information and we don't have well defined pathways to that information, those dendrites decay. The information is not necessarily lost, but it is harder to find.

Sometimes that information was never properly stored. People who cram before a test are often fooling themselves into thinking they are learning. Proper encoding can often require multiple uses of the information over a few days. Trying to cram that information into the brain, the night before a test, might result in enough partial encoding to be of use during the test, but if the process isn't completed over the next few days, the effort was a waste.

This question originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. More questions:

Why Walking through a Doorway Makes You Forget

The French poet Paul Valéry once said, &ldquoThe purpose of psychology is to give us a completely different idea of the things we know best.&rdquo 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&rsquos been there so long it&rsquos 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&mdashuntil 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&rsquot pay enough attention, or too much time passed, or it just wasn&rsquot important enough. But a &ldquocompletely different&rdquo idea comes from a team of researchers at the University of Notre Dame. The first part of their paper&rsquos title sums it up: &ldquoWalking through doorways causes forgetting.&rdquo

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.

This &ldquodoorway effect&rdquo appears to be quite general. It doesn't seem to matter, for instance, whether the virtual environments are displayed on a 66&rdquo flat screen or a 17&rdquo CRT. In one study, Radvansky and his colleagues tested the doorway effect in real rooms in their lab. Participants traversed a real-world environment, carrying physical objects and setting them down on actual tables. The objects were carried in shoeboxes to keep participants from peeking during the quizzes, but otherwise the procedure was more or less the same as in virtual reality. Sure enough, the doorway effect revealed itself: Memory was worse after passing through a doorway than after walking the same distance within a single room.

Is it walking through the doorway that causes the forgetting, or is it that remembering is easier in the room in which you originally took in the information? Psychologists have known for a while that memory works best when the context during testing matches the context during learning this is an example of what is called the encoding specificity principle. But the third experiment of the Notre Dame study shows that it's not just the mismatching context driving the doorway effect. In this experiment (run in VR), participants sometimes picked up an object, walked through a door, and then walked through a second door that brought them either to a new room or back to the first room. If matching the context is what counts, then walking back to the old room should boost recall. It did not.

The doorway effect suggests that there's more to the remembering than just what you paid attention to, when it happened, and how hard you tried. Instead, some forms of memory seem to be optimized to keep information ready-to-hand until its shelf life expires, and then purge that information in favor of new stuff. Radvansky and colleagues call this sort of memory representation an &ldquoevent model,&rdquo and propose that walking through a doorway is a good time to purge your event models because whatever happened in the old room is likely to become less relevant now that you have changed venues. That thing in the box? Oh, that's from what I was doing before I got here we can forget all about that. Other changes may induce a purge as well: A friend knocks on the door, you finish the task you were working on, or your computer battery runs down and you have to plug in to recharge.

Why would we have a memory system set up to forget things as soon as we finish one thing and move on to another? Because we can&rsquot keep everything ready-to-hand, and most of the time the system functions beautifully. It&rsquos the failures of the system&mdashand data from the lab&mdashthat give us a completely new idea of how the system works.

Are you a scientist who specializes in neuroscience, cognitive science, or psychology? And have you read a recent peer-reviewed paper that you would like to write about? Please send suggestions to Mind Matters editor Gareth Cook, a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist at the Boston Globe. He can be reached at garethideas AT or Twitter @garethideas.


Charles B. Brenner is a second year graduate student in the Dynamic Cognition Laboratory at Washington University in St. Louis, where he studies memory, language, and event cognition. Jeffrey M. Zacks is Associate Professor of Psychology at Washington University in St. Louis. His laboratory studies perception, memory, brains, movies, and space.

Why you forget what you came for when you enter the room

Forgetting why you entered a room is called the “Doorway Effect”, and it may reveal as much about the strengths of human memory, as it does the weaknesses, says psychologist Tom Stafford.

We’ve all done it. Run upstairs to get your keys, but forget that it is them you’re looking for once you get to the bedroom. Open the fridge door and reach for the middle shelf only to realise that we can’t remember why we opened the fridge in the first place. Or wait for a moment to interrupt a friend to find that the burning issue that made us want to interrupt has now vanished from our minds just as we come to speak: “What did I want to say again?” we ask a confused audience, who all think “how should we know?!”

Although these errors can be embarrassing, they are also common. It’s known as the “Doorway Effect”, and it reveals some important features of how our minds are organised. Understanding this might help us appreciate those temporary moments of forgetfulness as more than just an annoyance (although they will still be annoying).

These features of our minds are perhaps best illustrated by a story about a woman who meets three builders on their lunch break. “What are you doing today?” she asks the first. “I’m putting brick after sodding brick on top of another,” sighs the first. “What are you doing today?” she asks the second. “I’m building a wall,” is the simple reply. But the third builder swells with pride when asked, and replies: “I’m building a cathedral!”

Maybe you heard that story as encouragement to think of the big picture, but to the psychologist in you the important moral is that any action has to be thought of at multiple levels if you are going to carry it out successfully. The third builder might have the most inspiring view of their day-job, but nobody can build a cathedral without figuring out how to successfully put one brick on top of another like the first builder.

As we move through our days our attention shifts between these levels – from our goals and ambitions, to plans and strategies, and to the lowest levels, our concrete actions. When things are going well, often in familiar situations, we keep our attention on what we want and how we do it seems to take care of itself. If you’re a skilled driver then you manage the gears, indicators and wheel automatically, and your attention is probably caught up in the less routine business of navigating the traffic or talking to your passengers. When things are less routine we have to shift our attention to the details of what we’re doing, taking our minds off the bigger picture for a moment. Hence the pause in conversation as the driver gets to a tricky junction, or the engine starts to make a funny sound.

The way our attention moves up and down the hierarchy of action is what allows us to carry out complex behaviours, stitching together a coherent plan over multiple moments, in multiple places or requiring multiple actions.

The Doorway Effect occurs when our attention moves between levels, and it reflects the reliance of our memories – even memories for what we were about to do – on the environment we’re in.

Imagine that we’re going upstairs to get our keys and forget that it is the keys we came for as soon as we enter the bedroom. Psychologically, what has happened is that the plan (“Keys!”) has been forgotten even in the middle of implementing a necessary part of the strategy (“Go to bedroom!”). Probably the plan itself is part of a larger plan (“Get ready to leave the house!”), which is part of plans on a wider and wider scale (“Go to work!”, “Keep my job!”, “Be a productive and responsible citizen”, or whatever). Each scale requires attention at some point. Somewhere in navigating this complex hierarchy the need for keys popped into mind, and like a circus performer setting plates spinning on poles, your attention focussed on it long enough to construct a plan, but then moved on to the next plate (this time, either walking to the bedroom, or wondering who left their clothes on the stairs again, or what you’re going to do when you get to work or one of a million other things that it takes to build a life).

And sometimes spinning plates fall. Our memories, even for our goals, are embedded in webs of associations. That can be the physical environment in which we form them, which is why revisiting our childhood home can bring back a flood of previously forgotten memories, or it can be the mental environment – the set of things we were just thinking about when that thing popped into mind.

The Doorway Effect occurs because we change both the physical and mental environments, moving to a different room and thinking about different things. That hastily thought up goal, which was probably only one plate among the many we’re trying to spin, gets forgotten when the context changes.

It’s a window into how we manage to coordinate complex actions, matching plans with actions in a way that – most of the time – allows us to put the right bricks in the right place to build the cathedral of our lives.

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I have major depression, anxiety, and panic attacks. I once worked for a judge who screwed me out of my last paycheck, I live far out with no car and there is no public transit, and I hate cops. That's what I wrote on my jury summons. Oh -- and I've been arrested twice. Got the papers to prove all this. Awaiting their response. anon956329 June 13, 2014

I have jury duty in less than four hours. Sigh. Grand juror! Yay. How exciting. anon332915 May 1, 2013

If you make it into the courtroom where lawyers are cherry picking, and they give you a paper with questions on it, just answer them with bias. Example: "do you believe in the legal system"? Say no. Boom. That gets you kicked out quick.

I served twice and I got out of one by being a bookworm and the last time I got in because I answered the questions with no bull crap. Usually they ask you, "Can you be unbiased and follow the evidence?" Well, technically, as a juror, you don't have follow the evidence. You can find someone not guilty just because you felt like it. Look up jury duty powers. anon325670 March 17, 2013

What? Getting arrested just because you didn't show up for jury duty. Now that is messed up! Has this country gone crazy or something? anon322813 March 1, 2013

I live in Oregon. My boyfriend didn't show up for jury duty and there's now a warrant out for his arrest. anon300522 October 30, 2012

I don't know how people are selected but I've been called to serve three times in nine years but other people I know have never been called. If it was random, then statistically I shouldn't have been called so much. anon283485 August 4, 2012

Wow, nice to see the patriots out in full force. What ever happened to being civic minded, or having a sense of participation in this thing we call a Democracy? I weep for my country. anon282754 July 31, 2012

I agree with anon, it's crap. Just throw away the summons and don't go. They really can't prove you got it. I've never gone whenever they've summoned me. Nothing happened. My friend didn't go to his, but later he got nervous and called them. The guy on the phone told him that it didn't really matter, he wouldn't be arrested or anything crazy like that, and all that would happen is he would be more likely to get called again soon. That was like a year and a half ago and he never got called again. We are in North Carolina. anon194632 July 8, 2011

Jury duty stinks. The justice system in this country stinks. I don't care to waste my time sitting in a stuffy courtroom listening to some petty crime crap, and I don't want to hear that "It's your civic duty nonsense." Civic duty, my butt. Face it, the majority of people avoid this like the plague. It's too time consuming and with a meager pay. I'll do whatever I can to get out of this crap whenever possible. sneakers41 July 8, 2010

Sunny27- I agree. Serving on a jury sounds exciting, but I guess it depends on the types of cases. Some cases would be more exciting than others. A friend of mind told me that she served on a jury once, and the case involved wrongful termination.

The plaintiff lost because the defense was able to justify the termination by displaying his attendance record, which was awful. He missed a lot of work and that was simple enough for the jury to side against him. You can’t expect to keep your job if you don’t show up to work.

Kilorenz- I bet the jury case you served on was interesting. I have never served on a jury before, I always get exempt. I received a jury summons once while in college and I was exempt because of my full-time student status.

Many years later when I stayed home to raise my children, I also asked for an exemption because I was the primary care giver to my children who were not old enough to attend school. But I do think that serving on a jury would be interesting. I love learning anything legal and debating the merits of the case with the rest of the jury sounds fascinating. kilorenz June 16, 2010

I got lucky on my first (and so far only) jury summons. I had to drive a few towns over, and the group I was in had to sit quietly in this room while the parties involved tried to come to a settlement. After three hours or so, the case was settled without the use of a jury, so I got to go home. Even though you can usually get out of going to jury duty once before they make you do it, it’s usually a good idea to just get over with. In most cases, you can get it out of the way like I did without the case becoming a continuing burden on your life.

It’s called priorities and the people in your life should make the list.

Sadly, if you are married to the ultimate forgetter, you have probably become accustomed to their selfish behavior and lack of consideration for celebrating YOU. And, that is part of the problem. If you write your husband or wife, significant other, parent or child off as flighty and scatter brained – you are enabling this behavior. Instead, you should be forthright about it. Bottom line, it hurts – even if your mom is a basket case. It hurts when she forgets your birthday. Tell them how you feel, and don’t accept their second handed approaches to make up for something. Your birthday was yesterday not TODAY. The least you could have had was a hand written note that said, “Happy Birthday.” Or a phone call.

And, another truth is this. Everyone wants to be celebrated. How difficult is it really to take 15 minutes to exert some effort into celebrating someone else in your life? The lack of desire (or remembrance) to do is extremely hurtful and is just one of the signs that there is a lack of respect in the relationship. And a lack of respect for others from the moron who forgets who everything.

Heck, if know that you forget things than call 1-800-FLOWERS and pre-order some flowers. Most gift giving companies also have reminder services that will send you a text message before the big day. Utilize it. This way, all you have to do is respond YES and you will be a hero for remembering someone else. And more importantly, for making someone else in your life – feel special. Everybody wants to feel special.

So, what’s your excuse going to be this year? How many more times do you think you can use the, “I forgot,” or “I’m just so busy,” card to explain why you didn’t spend 15 minutes for the sake of someone else? Eventually, as stated before – your actions will speak louder than your words. And your actions are saying that you really don’t prioritize other people, or think much of their feelings. Sad.

Recover or Reset Forgotten Apple ID or Password on iPhone & iPad

This is all done on an iOS device and is often the simplest way to log back into an Apple account:

  1. Open the Settings app and scroll down and tap on your name (or “iCloud” if older iOS)
  2. Tap on the email address at the very top of the iCloud settings screen
  3. Tap on the blue text underneath the password entry that says “Forgot Apple ID or Password?” where you’ll have two choices:
    • If you know your Apple ID and don’t remember the password, type in your email address and click “Next” to start the reset process
    • If you don’t know your Apple ID, tap on “Forgot your Apple ID?” and fill out your full name and email address to recover the Apple ID login (yes, you can then do the password reset after you have the Apple ID)
  4. Answer the security questions pertaining to that Apple ID, and follow the onscreen directions to complete the process

At this point you should be good to go, you can reset the password for the account and then login as usual.

What if this doesn’t work, or what if it doesn’t find your Apple ID? You can try one of the next two options:

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