New Study Finds That Internet Use Affects Memory

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Research shows searching online affects memory

The Internet is a vast ocean full of information. The spread of the World Wide Web has modified the way people try to find the relevant information. Search engines and online database use has affected the manner in which many people remember the information. Betsy Sparrow who is an assistant professor of psychology led a new research to determine the way people remembered information. The study was undertaken to verify if people easily remembered the information that was retrieved by a computer similar to students remembering the data that was most likely to be a part of a test.

Four staged experiment

Dr. Sparrow along with Daniel M. Wegner from Harvard and Jenny Liu from the University of Wisconsin undertook the experiment in four stages of various memory experiments. In the first experiment, the participating individuals were asked to type forty bits of regular information. Approximately fifty percent of the participants believed that the information would be saved while the others believed they would delete the information. The research showed that participants did not try to remember that information that they believed could be found easily later.

The second experiment

The second experiment was aimed to find out whether the accessibility of computers had an effect on the way, people remembered information. The researchers asked the participants to name a country that had only one color in its flag. The experiment was to determine whether participants thought about a flag or of going online to search for the information.

The findings

The participating individuals were asked to remember the regular information they had typed and the one of the five folders that was used to store this information. The study showed that the participants were able to easily recall the folder where the information was stored rather than the information itself. Dr. Sparrow and her colleagues were surprised at this finding.

Transactive memory

The study was used to evaluate the transactive memory aspect in human beings. This believes that most individuals rely on friends, family, colleagues, and other materials to find the necessary information. Therefore, most of us do not make an effort to try to remember the information. Although, the effects of Internet on human memory are unknown, the World Wide Web has become an individual’s external storage device. According to Dr. Sparrow, the human memory was adapting itself to the new and modern technical developments.