Easy access to the Internet has resulted in less storage of facts in our brains, but a better memory of where to search for the answer, according to a study published yesterday (July 14) in Science Express.
In a series of experiments on 46 college students, researchers found that the test group was 40 percent more likely to remember information when they were told they would not be able to look it up later. Conversely, those who were told they would have access to the computer folder in which it was stored were more likely to remember how to locate the folder than the information itself.
The practice of storing information outside of the brain and remembering its location, but not the details, is not a new thing. “It’s very similar to how we use people in our lives,” Columbia University psychologist Elizabeth Sparrow told Wired Science. People serve as repositories of information that allow an individual access to a greater amount of information than they could store in their brain, she explained, and “the Internet is really just an interface with a lot of other people.”