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But I Just Looked That Up!


credit: crystaljingsr user on Flickr

Did you ever look something up on Google and forget it five seconds later?

Recent studies show that the use of online databases (Google) is affecting the way people remember information. Because everything is displayed on the Internet for maximum public consumption, more people are finding that they can easily recall where they have found certain information rather than what the information actually said. In other words, databases like Google have become a primary form of human’s Transactive Memory.

This is a sign that our brains are adapting to our environments. As technology becomes more of a vital part of humans’ every day life, our brains begin to alter the way we handle the information, and find ways to adapt. Memory works through levels of processing, which can be summed up in Organization, Distinctiveness, Effort, and Elaboration. The problem with having information at our fingertips using Google or Yahoo is that people simply don’t have to exert the effort to find this information and understand it anymore.

This new information may change the way professors teach certain classes. Rather than ask for memorization of facts, professors should require a certain level of understanding and a more thorough way of thinking information through.

What about you? Have YOU ever looked something up on Google or yahoo, maybe for a test that started in two minutes, and totally forgotten it?

For more information on the cognitive consequences of Internet databases on our memories, click here.

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1 Comment

  1. gambibambi

    This always happens to me when I’m doing research for big papers and stuff like that! I was interested in what you said about having so much information at our finger tips that it negatively effects our memory so I did some research. I found this study: First-Time Internet Users Find Boost In Brain Function After Just One Week.


    Their findings suggest that the Internet can stimulate neural activity and result in an increase in brain function and cognition among older adults. I thought that it was particularly interesting because when you compare your article with this one, you see a classic example of how too much of a good thing can be bad.

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