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Internet responsible for changes in memory function

Internet responsible for changes in memory function

Research recently published in the journal Science suggests that the Internet and computers are responsible for changing memory function. Psychological tests were performed, which indicated that a person would tend to turn to the Internet when presented with a difficult question. Although they didn’t remember the answer to the question, they knew where the answer was stored.

According to the researchers, the Internet acts as a “transactive memory”, which is when a person knows that information is held by another person or in another place. The lead author of the report, Betsy Sparrow describes transactive memory as

“an idea that there are external memory sources-really storage places that exist in other people.”

Daniel Wegner, who co wrote the report, initially introduced the concept of transactive memory in a book chapter called ‘Cognitive Interdependence in Close Relationships’, concluding that long term couples would rely on each other to be an external memory bank.

In conclusion, Sparrow said:

“I don’t think Google is making us stupid- we’re just changing the way that we’re remembering things…If you can find stuff online even while you’re walking down the street these days, then the skill to have, the thing to remember, is where to go to find the information. It’s just like it would be with people- the skill to have is to remember who to go see about [particular topics].”

With the Internet playing such an important role nowadays, and people turning to Google when they want to find anything, it is no wonder that businesses compete for first page listings on terms relevant to their business. As a result, even new industries have appeared, including search engine optimisation.

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