Monday, 03 April 2017 14:27

TECH WARNING: Search engines and smartphones are DESTROYING our memories

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With the internet and smartphones being relatively new phenomena, scientists are still coming to grips with what affect they have on our psyche.

David Emm, principal security research at Kaspersky Lab said: "We need to understand the long term implications of this for how we remember and how we protect those memories.”

A study carried out by the lab saw them survey 6,000 16-55-year olds across six European countries to test their memories.

Just under a half of those surveyed said that they could not remember their partner’s phone numbers and 71 per cent of those with children could not recall their offspring’s digits.

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More than a half of 16-24 year olds in the survey said that their smartphones contained all the information that they needed.

Mr Emm added: "The phone numbers of those who matter most to us are now just a click away - so we no longer bother to memorise the details.”

Dr Kathryn Mills, of the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, said: “Reliance on digital devices, and the trust we place in them, can resemble a human relationship.

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Our constant picture taking is also hampering our memory

“The feelings are established in the same way – through experience.

“Repeated experience with a reliable individual builds a ‘schema’ or association for that individual in our memory, telling us that this person can be depended on.

“If a digital device is continually reliable then we will build that into our schema of that device.”

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Our memories are getting worse

Dr Maria Wimber, Lecturer, School of Psychology, University of Birmingham, added that the fact that the majority of us constantly have a camera on us, usually on our phones, which is causing selective memory.

She stated: “One aspect that seems to be a trend in the age of smartphones, is to externally store personal memories in the form of pictures.

“Pictures are a very powerful reminder, and have the potential to reawaken memories that we would otherwise have forgotten.

“However, they also carry the risk of dictating which aspects of our past we remember, and the more often people remember the same events, the more likely they forget other relevant memories that are not captured in pictures.

“There also seems to be a risk that the constant recording of information on digital devices makes us less likely to commit this information to long term memory, and might even distract us from properly encoding an event as it happens.”

Dr Wimber went on to say that constantly using search engines such as Google is affecting out long-term memories.

Dr Wimber: “There is an argument to be made that looking up information online, instead of trying to recall it ourselves, makes us shallower thinkers.

“Past research has repeatedly demonstrated that actively recalling information is a very efficient way to create a permanent memory.

“In contrast, passively repeating information (e.g. by repeatedly looking it up on the internet) does not create a solid, lasting memory trace in the same way.”

Source : express.co.uk

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