New modelling suggests Sydney could remain in lockdown until September be fore case numbers reach an "acceptable level."…
New modelling suggests Sydney could remain in lockdown until September be fore case numbers reach an "acceptable level."
For most people, being in lockdown isn’t an enjoyable experience. Being stuck inside, only allowed to go out for very limited reasons and not being able to see friends and family is at the very least frustrating and at the worst can have severe impacts on mental health and wellbeing.
But there is another strange impact lockdown can have and with 13 million Aussies currently under stay at home orders, it’s likely that many have experienced it first hand.
Have you noticed you are finding it increasingly difficult to keep track of the days or your memory is more muddled than usual?
Adam Osth, senior lecturer in psychology the University of Melbourne, said all the above could be a little-known impact of prolonged lockdowns.
“There is increasing theoretical and experimental evidence that suggests both memory and time perception are based on the same underlying principle: a change in your physical and/or mental state,” Dr Osth wrote in The Conversation.
“So it follows that when there is less change, it becomes harder to determine how much time has passed, or to remember what happened and when.”
He said many scientists are now embracing a theory known as contextual-biding theory that suggests memories are formed by “linking what you experience to the context in which it occurred”.
Experiences that occur in situations outside of a person’s norm, such as being on holiday, are often easier to recall because the memory cues are linked to a very unique context so they stand out.
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Dr Osth said being in lockdown is the “exact opposite of this” as the majority of events that occur are experienced in very similar contexts, due to the restrictions on where you can be and what you can do.
“If you’re spending almost all your time in your house, it’s harder to pinpoint individual memories of the things that happened there. It’s like doing a Google search where everything matches your search terms,” he wrote.
Research has also shown that people are able to less accurately measure how much time has passed when they are in a situation with less environmental changes.
In his piece, Dr Osth referred to the results of an experiment published on the American Psychological Association page where participants learned words from three different lists, with some of them experiencing a “mental context change” between each list.
The group that experienced more context change, thinking about things other that the previous list, had a better memory of the words learned in the more recent list and the other groups had a worse memory.
The group that had no context change also estimated less time had passed while conducting the experiment, compared to the other group.
For those who have been experiencing this lockdown memory fog, Dr Osth suggests changing up their surroundings as much as possible.
“Mix up your physical surroundings, or try different exercises or routines on different days to make them more distinct,” he wrote.
“And rest assured, your lockdown memory fog is almost certainly temporary. Once lockdown lifts and go back to experiencing events in different places, we will start remembering what day it is again.”