Thursday, January 19, 2012

Positional memory

Recently, I linked to an article that revealed why we forget things when we move from room to room. Apparently our minds compartmentalize memories by room. Each time we walk through a doorway, we forget what we knew when we were in the other room. This is why, when we get up to get something in another room, we have no idea what we're looking for by the time we get there.

I've noticed another kind of odd memory mechanism that's in the same vein. Have you ever let someone sit in your chair in front of your computer, and then found yourself unable to answer simple computer questions? Like they ask you how to do something, something you definitely know how to do, but you can't tell them the answer? It's so weird. You know that you know the answer to this question, but as you stand and lean over the person and try to type the command into the keyboard, you realize you have no idea what to do. So you ask the person to get up so you can sit in the chair -- and suddenly the memory is available to you.

I think this is really odd. For now, I'm calling it "positional memory": Standing, you have no clue; sitting, it's second nature. Weird.