Experts say Computers Are Affecting People’s Memory Skills

Computer FrustrationThere used to be a day when people had to try to remember stuff. However, thanks to computers, those days are quickly fading away. In fact, according to new research, computes and the internet are now changing the way that people use their memory.

New experiments show that people who are asked very difficult questions, no matter what the nature of the question, turn to computers. Researchers put this theory to the test for part one of their experiments. For part two, they would return to the participant and ask them the question again. Most of the time the participants would have very poor memory of what the answers were, but they could recall where the answer could be found.

This has caused scientists to say that the internet acts more as a “transactive memory.” This is because people are relying on computers and the internet to help them remember things. Betsy Sparrow of Columbia University, who was the lead author on this report, said that transactive memory is an idea that there are external memory sources that people can use. Pretty much, there are experts out there on just about every question people can think of, and people let those people be experts. Instead of figuring it out for themselves, they turn to these people by way of the internet.

In order for this research to work, the team had to break up the test into parts. The first part was to test whether subjects were “primed” to think about using the internet and computers to answer questions. In order to do this, researchers had to use what is known as a modified “Stroop Test.” For those who don’t know what this is, it’s a test that involves visual and vocal responses from the participant. The most common form of this test is when a participant will look at the name of a color written in a different color.

Dr Sparrow said that, after presenting the subjects with some hard true or false questions, their reaction times to internet related terms were longer. In a nut shell, this means that when subjects were not sure what the answer was, they were already considering trying to find the answer by way of the computer.

This has led some people to come to the consultation that the internet and search engines, like Google, are making people “stupid.” She pointed out that people tend to know that they can find information online and, thus, they tend to “keep it online.” They just retain the way in which they would find the information. She finished up by saying that she does not think that Google or any other search engine is making people stupid. However, she does feel that the internet has changed the way that people remember things.



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