Google replacing 'human brain' as main memory source
Internet has over-powered our brains in becoming the main source of memory for us, a new study has revealed.Updated: Jan 25, 2012 16:18 IST
Internet has over-powered our brains in becoming the main source of memory for us, a new study has revealed.
Harvard researchers revealed that if people want to know something they use the Internet as an 'external memory' just like computers use an external hard drive.
Presently, people are so dependent on their smart phones and laptops that they go into 'withdrawal' when they are unable to find out something 'immediately'.
And such is their dependence that having an Internet connection severed is becoming 'more and more like losing a friend'.
Researchers from Harvard University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Columbia University in the U.S. conducted four tests to check their theory.
They involved giving test participants a trivia quiz and then seeing whether they recognised computer-related words more quickly than other words, the Daily Mail reported.
The other tests comprised seeing if people remembered 40 pieces information they would typically later have normally looked up.
The third and fourth parts of the study included checking how well people remember where to look up information online and whether or not they remembered the location more than the actual data.
The results indicated that when people do not believe they will require the information for a later test, they do not recall it at the same rate as when they do believe they will need it.
In fact, some of those in the study 'actively did not make the effort to remember when they thought they could later look up the trivia statements they had read', the paper divulged.
"People actively do not make the effort to remember when they think they can look up information later," said the study
The other results showed that when continuous Internet access is expected, people are better at remembering where they can find it than the details.
According to the study led by Betsy Sparrow, an assistant professor at the department of psychology at Columbia University, 'the advent of the Internet, with sophisticated algorithmic search engines, has made accessing information as easy as lifting a finger.'
"No longer do we have to make costly efforts to find the things we want. We can 'Google' the old classmate, find articles online, or look up the actor who was on the tip of our tongue," researchers said.
"When faced with difficult questions, people are primed to think about computers and that when people expect to have future access to information, they have lower rates of recall of the information itself and enhanced recall instead for where to access it.
"The Internet has become a primary form of external or transactive memory, where information is stored collectively outside ourselves," they added.
First Published: Jan 25, 2012 16:15 IST