Search engines and the Internet are chnaging the way we remember things.
16 July 2011 | Category: Software
According to research published in the journal Science, computers and the internet may be changing the way people store memories. Participants in the study were put through a barrage of tests, and when presented with difficult questions, they were likely to think about computers.
The research shows that computers and the internet act as "transactive" memory, a form of memory that suggests humans have external memory that exists in other people. Transactive memory describes the way in which couples in close relationships better coordinate shared memories and tasks together, as well as group memory.
According to the paper, computers and the internet have now become a part of transactive memory. Participants in the study were put through a revealing experiment in which they were presented with a stream of facts. Half of the group was told to file the facts away in computer "folders"; the other half were told the information would be erased. Participants who were told the information would be erased had much better recall when asked to remember the facts.
Those participants who filed the information away, however, were easily able to remember the folder in which the information was stored.
"I don't think Google is making us stupid," said lead author Betsy Sparrow of Columbia University, "we're just changing the way we're remembering things."