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Study Looks at Location-Updating Effect of Doorways on Memory

Effect on memory due to degree of immersion in an environment rather than shift in context

TUESDAY, Nov. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Walking through a doorway has a location-updating effect, reflecting the influence of experienced context in terms of the degree of immersion in an environment, according to a study published in the Quarterly Journal Of Experimental Psychology.

Gabriel A. Radvansky, Ph.D., from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, and colleagues examined whether the location-updating effect of walking through a doorway reflects the influence of the experienced context, in terms of the degree of immersion of an individual in a specific environment, or in terms of a shift in context. Three experiments were conducted using different environments. In the first, smaller displays were used to measure the degree of immersion on location-updating effects. In the second experiment, immersion was maximized using an actual, and not a virtual, environment. The third experiment examined whether the original encoding context was reinstated by returning to the original location where the objects were encoded.

The investigators found that location-updating effects were observed in both the first and second experiments. In the third experiment, memory did not improve by reinstating context, which was inconsistent with an encoding specificity account.

"Walking through doorways serves as an event boundary, thereby initiating the updating of one's event model. This updating process can reduce the availability of information in memory for objects associated with the prior event. Here, we were able to show that this effect extends to different degrees of immersion," the authors write.

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