Curious are the ways of the world and certain phenomena that we ordinarily witness and encounter in person or in passing are amusing enough to both baffle and intrigue us. In fact some of the most common happenings of life turn out to be such recurrences that prevail as unaccountable even in all universality for they do not seem to offer plausible explanations for the beings. Think for instance the number of times in your life you have barged into rooms with a definite purpose in mind but the minute you enter every semblance of what you were there for somehow just vanishes. Not as just an incident in isolation but as fairly common cases that otherwise are so ordinary that you do not care to give a second though to it. This might strike as a care of mere forgetfulness until the time you decipher the pattern resident therein or till you come to consider rather the premise of its happening. Recalling the umpteenth times you tend to walk into rooms and forget why you had been there in the first place presents you with a startling revelation that can even leave you paranoid with the sheer consistency of its context in happening. And to quite good reason it seems, as there indeed is a certain curious working of psychology here that effectively coaxes you against retaining any idea of the reason you walked in through the doorway to the room.
Referred to as the doorway effect, this tendency to forget things when passing through a doorway could be rather annoying as everyone of us experiencing it knows for sure, which therefore accounts for the entire world. Indeed, so commonplace is this occurrence that plays down upon the mind that we cease to not pay much attention to it. And that’s part the problem why we end up in situations like these all so often. Stirred by shifting spans of attention across different levels of awareness that which leads the brain to be overloaded brings us to the threshold of this not really pleasant doorway experience. Triggered perhaps by a change in the physical and mental environments that we find ourselves in, at some place in one moment and a somewhat different ‘other’ in the very next, that while might not be phenomenal enough a difference in the first place still is significant enough to warrant an upheaval of the way in which the brain is conditioned to perform. Concerned indeed with the brain’s most primary function of memory is this intriguing happening of sorts that arise due to a mental block, possibly induced by a change of scene in which we first envisioned the task to be carried out. Which makes this phenomenon more universal, not just in catering to almost every single human on the face of the earth but also in being a phenomenon likely to be encountered in any realm of existence, and not just specifically in doorways and through rooms. The factor inducing such a total fall out of our recalling capabilities is likely caused by the abrupt change that takes over the brain as we move on from one setting to the other, making therefore the doorway effect more general a perception across different spectrums of existence despite the terminology pointing to a singular some domain of working.
More appropriately then, the phenomenon would be better identified as the location updating effect or the event horizon effect even when the doorway reference is more common and indeed more catchy. The effect is most prominent of course when our brains are all the more occupied and busy, inducing a memory lapse even across a trifle change in scene that holds up however the complexities of minuteness in greater consideration. In setting up therefore such boundaries that define not just physical spaces but also events with such relocation of the body, we bring the brain to a position where it is on the threshold of a crossover, both literally and essentially and therefore liable to process memories catering to dimensions on either side of the line. It isn’t without any basis though that this segmenting of memory takes place in the brain every time we meander through different range of activities and diverse realms of space. The purpose behind such drawing of demarcations between chunks of memory is the brain’s way of facilitating future recollection without the essence of one event overlapping over the others. However, this classification of memories associated with distinct events as separate realisations also is accompanied by an altogether phasing out of the previous event in prioritising the one that is to follow, which is what essentially leads us to forget things as we move on from one place of dwelling to the other.
So assertive is the working of the doorway effect in the range of influencing, or rather hindering brain processes that one does not even need to cross a physical passage to put the effect into motion. Merely imagining walking through a doorway can yield more or less similar impact of the effect as it can do in more real a manner of its working. But for a effect so impactful that merely visualising the strata of the physicality along which it works, that too in such tremendous surety, the doorway effect does not really bode anything as to the capabilities or otherwise of the brain. Not indicative of memory or intelligence neither of cognitive abilities is this phenomenon that can be largely attributed to a fall out of focus for the task at hand, making therefore this otherwise weird enough happening not very significant of commanding attention. It instead is insignificant enough in its ordinariness, pertaining as it does to a healthy brain functioning. But outside its ‘reputation’ in being unsettling and upsetting as well in premise, even though momentarily, this particular way of working by the brain that phases out information strategically to make place for new ones to register indeed does wonders as well. It is this manifestation that is what keeps us from incessantly worrying about our jobs even beyond work hours for instance, relieving us therefore from such stress that would have been otherwise dominating our lives to appalling extents. The involuntary aspect of such natural indeed workings possess hence the potential to ease our lives even when it might not be something we fondly regard in their obtrusiveness. Even then though, it still would be possible to reverse the workings of it through such measures as essentially simple as being more attentive and being singularly driven at that as well.
As something very much psychological in its assertion of weighing down upon currently pursued interests in favour of ones emergent of the imminent future, and one that is evolutionary in its basis as well, the doorway effect has come to be well elaborated in its scientific awareness. But what makes this effect somewhat more captivating is its treading also along a trail more inclined to the literary beauty of its perception than the scientific explanation of it. First encountered in the 1983 book The Meaning of Liff is this phenomenon where it finds interpretation as ‘woking’ explained as “standing in the kitchen wondering what you came in here for”. The kitchen reference itself is significant given how investigators and researchers pursuing the doorway effect in strictly scientific hierarchy of its essence begin or even settle on evoking the kitchen as the place most likely to be explored as the setting for simplified elucidation of their idea. This of course is only whimsical a parallel we have attempted to draw, allowing ourselves to partake of the liberties that only the imaginatives of the literary can afford. But in still stirring the idea of this particular ‘woke’ working of the senses by authors John Lloyd and Douglas Adams quite some years before it commanded scientific attention, the doorway effect manifests as far intrusive an aspect that governs our very existence. Also somewhat surprising might be the fact that the doorway effect finds much more relevance in the present times, or so as to say has entailed along with an importance that might be subdued but should still be significant enough once we come to understand its subtleness. Amidst the coronavirus crisis in which we live today in a world more or less restricted within the confines of the home, the doorway effect even feels like some happening more desirable rather than disruptive. Helping us to shrug off work worries at the office by merely walking across thresholds into rooms of a different environment altogether had been this curious catering to humankind that which is lesser prevalent today for the simple reason that there perhaps aren’t enough rooms to barge into in our homes to experience such extent of a change in scene that manages to matter. In such confounding criteria of its being that creates definite worlds within a single space of physicality, demarcated only by awarenesses, the doorway effect have been perhaps the door to a life we have continued to live more despite all its slamming.