The reason Christopher Nolan's Memento works so well — other than the perfect editing technique — is that it uses that classic formula of taking something relatable ("we've all been there") and adding an extra dose of extremism to the proceedings ("well, not that far there"). While not many of us have actually had to tattoo names, addresses, and reasons for living on our bodies to jog our damaged memories, everyone's had those eerie moments where we find ourselves in a room, unsure exactly what we're supposed to do, but having that gnawing sense that we're there to do something.
Well, scientists over at Notre Dame have been researching this phenomenon of everyday forgetfulness, and they may have found something:
“Entering or exiting through a doorway serves as an ‘event boundary’ in the mind, which separates episodes of activity and files them away,” Radvansky explains. “Recalling the decision or activity that was made in a different room is difficult because it has been compartmentalized.”
Essentially, walking through a doorway is like the loading screen in between levels of an old computer video game. When you enter a new environment, your brain needs time to process the new information presented before it can take on whatever task you're supposed to do there. And every now and then, the computer crashes. How we're supposed to use this information remains to be seen; personally, I plan on never leaving the room I'm currently in. But, you know, the more you know, etc.