Yes, they were tough puzzles and not only for the reasons mentioned in the post (I gave some details about how abstract art is distracting for some). The difficulty factor in these particular puzzles, laid out in that particular way, went way up because you could not see both images on the same screen at the same time – you had to scroll up and down. That, my friends, tests your working memory – a tiny space that holds a limited amount of information for a short period of time.
I notice my working memory failures, quite frequently, as I stand in the middle of the room, shaking my head, trying to remember why the heck I am here and what am I supposed to remember to do….
The following is from a piece I wrote earlier this year originally posted on this site and the ideas (0r loss of them as I walked through so many doorways) apply just as much today as they did when I started writing about them!
Did you walk into a room today and completely forget why you were there? I did…all day long…. It has just been one of those days.
The good news is that this is “normal” and explainable: going from one room to the next can make you forget! Seriously, researchers at Notre Dame studied this and determined that the physical act of walking through a doorway can cause you to forget!
You create an “event boundary” – a point where memory is updated to bring in new information. When you receive new information, “old” information is given a new position in the order of importance based on how it holds up to the new data. Sounds complicated but here is what is really happening: when you walk through a door you add new items for your limited, short term memory to deal with. Most of the “old” items are either compartmentalized (put in a category and filed away) or just pushed aside to make room for something more immediate and important. Poof…just like that, your thought is gone!
So, maybe we are not crazy, but what can we do? Some say retrace your steps. Unless you were on a mission to find something that you needed to complete a task in the first room (like a pen to write a check), this usually doesn’t work. Often, memories that are put in a category and filed away don’t keep their context so back tracking is not always successful. In addition, since it is the physical act of going from one room to the next that makes you forget, rinsing and repeating only adds more information to the process and makes it less likely you will remember your original purpose.
One good strategy to use to keep from losing a specific thought is to make sure the information stays at the front of the working memory line. Make it important enough to bump everything else out of the way. Give that thought an emotional value or a sense of urgency. Make it tough to replace it or file it away without associating it with something urgent. That can be exhausting though, so make sure you only choose those things you really need to remember.
You can also remember things in chunks – associate several thoughts and make it one. That way that group only takes up one spot in line and, even if the group is filed away, you have several points of reference to use to pull it out.
Some days though, just know that the Doorway Syndrome is real and will happen no matter what! I file this away in the “stuff happens” category. That way when I stand up and leave the room, I won’t beat myself up for not remembering why I came here to begin with!