I often find myself walking into the kitchen (or the living room or bedroom or wherever), unable to recall why I was going there in the first place. What I do in those cases is retrace my steps, until I am back to where I began my trip. And more often than not, the location triggers the precise association that prompted me to move in the first place, and I triumphantly return to the place of forgetfulness, ready to do whatever it is that needs doing.
In this case, I’m exploiting the close contextual nature of memory: our minds respond to cues in our surroundings to retrieve whatever it was that needed retrieving. In other words, we recall information better in the same environment as we stored it–or, in my case, the same environment that triggered the connection–to begin with. Context, in all its forms–visual, aural, olfactory, tactile–works as an essential memory cue.
Read the full story: Scientific American