Internet Taking Over Human Memory, Affecting Thought Processes: Study

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A new article published in the journal Memory, researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz and University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign have found that increasing reliance on the Internet and the ease of access to the vast resource available online is affecting human thought processes for problem solving, recall and learning.

Benjamin Storm, Sean Stone & Aaron Benjamin conducted experiments to determine the likelihood of people to reach for a computer or smartphone to answer questions.

The results revealed that participants who previously used the Internet to gain information were significantly more likely to revert to Google for subsequent questions than those who relied on memory.

Participants also spent less time consulting their own memory before reaching for the Internet; they were not only more likely to do it again, they were likely to do it much more quickly. Remarkably 30% of participants who previously consulted the Internet failed to even attempt to answer a single simple question from memory.

“Memory is changing. Our research shows that as we use the Internet to support and extend our memory we become more reliant on it, said lead author Benjamin Storm.

“Whereas before we might have tried to recall something on our own, now we don’t bother. As more information becomes available via smartphones and other devices, we become progressively more reliant on it in our daily lives,” he added.