Google May be Altering Your Brain: Study

 @ibtimes on July 15 2011 6:01 PM
Google and Memory
Do search engines change the way we remember information? REUTERS

A new study claimed that Google has become a part of everyday life.  The study went on to say that the search engine is changing the way we think and what we choose to remember.  The rise of Google and social media has not only molded our society into an insecurity-maintaining, cold-hearted machine but has also influenced our memory, which was were previously thought to be rather fixed.

The study, led by psychologist Betsy Sparrow of Columbia University and called The Google Effect, suggested that Google is changing the way that our brains choose to remember information.  Sparrow said that we are less likely to remember information because we know where to find it.  Sparrow went on to say that our capability to remember the things that we want to remember has not decreased, but our desire to has.  

Sparrow said, We're not thoughtless empty-headed people who don't have memories anymore.  But we are becoming particularly adept at remembering where to go to find things. And that's kind of amazing. 

The study found that the use of search engines has reorganized human memory in terms of where it goes for information and that we no longer rely as much on our memories.  The evidence is founded in four distinct studies carried out by Sparrow, Daniel M. Wegner of Harvard and Jenny Liu of the University of Wisconsin.

The first experiment enrolled participants who typed 40 bits of trivia into a computer.  Half of the participants believed that the information would be saved in the computer while the other half believed that the items would be erased.  The latter, more pessimistic, subjects retained significantly more information than the former. 

A second experiment asked participants to remember the trivia statement and which of five computer folders it was saved in and found that people were better able to recall the folder than the trivia statement.  Transactive memory involves memorizing where you can get information and not the information itself. 

Sparrow said that Our brains rely on the Internet for memory in much the same way they rely on the memory of a friend, family member, or co-worker.  We remember less through knowing information itself than by knowing where the information can be found.

 

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