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What did I come in here for? Study explains why we forget simple tasks

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(CBS) What did I come in here for?

How many times have you asked yourself that question after forgetting why you entered a room, despite having a clear mission in mind only seconds before?

It might not be old age. A new study suggests the simple act of passing through a doorway causes frustrating memory lapses.

What were we talking about again?

"When you go from room to room, your brain identifies each room as a new event and sets a new memory trace to capture the new event," study author Dr. Gabriel Radvansky, professor of psychology at the University of Notre Dame, told MSNBC's blog, The Body Odd.

Radvansky's team conducted memory experiments on college students in virtual and real-world rooms, some with doors, some without. The researchers found that students forgot more after walking through a doorway - whether it was real or virtual.

The darned door serves as an "event boundary." That's a barrier that separates episodes of activity and files them away somewhere else, Radvanksy said in a university written statement.

"Recalling the decision or activity that was made in a different room is difficult because it has been compartmentalized," Radvansky said.

Frustating, sure, but Radvansky said there's hope.

He told MSNBC that people should carry an object that reminds them of their task. For example, if you go into another room for a pair of scissors, carry the object you wanted to cut or hold your fingers in a scissor shape.

That is, of course, if you remember to do that.

The study is published in the Nov. 16 issue of Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.

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