Why is it so hard to see code from 5 minutes ago?

A study found that Java developers backtracked every 6 minutes, meaning they reverted their code to a previous state (e.g., by clicking undo or pressing Ctrl-Z).1 These undo actions come in bursts and are often followed by successive redo actions. In fact, one participant in a different study used undo/redo 40 times in 5 minutes!2 When asked why they did this, they revealed they were trying to view some intermediate state of the code in the middle of a change.

Why is it so hard to see code from 5 minutes ago while in the middle of a change?

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