Is Google Hurting Our Memory?

Google is great for looking up words, finding movie times or perusing recipes, but recent research out of Columbia University shows our dependence on Internet search may be hurting our memory.

The Internet has replaced our brain’s ability to remember information we could easily search for online, a study led by neuroscientist Betsy Sparrow shows. While we heavy Internet users remember where to search for information, we have forgotten information itself.

Just as computers use external hard drives to store information, our brains use the Internet as a back up. Many of us are rarely without an Internet connection, meaning we can rely on the memory of where we read something online. As a result, we often forget information we don’t think we will need again.

“People actively do not make the effort to remember when they think they can look up information later,” the study’s authors write.

Furthermore, we go into withdrawal when we can’t find something online. Losing our smartphones is becoming more like the experience of losing a friend, The Daily Mail explains.

The study’s participants underwent four experiments, which tested their memory of easily searchable optimised information, whether they responded more quickly to computer-related words than other words and whether they remembered where to search for information online.

Do you think constant Internet connection has influenced your ability to recall information? Do you make any effort to remember information you can search for later?