Internet Searches Affect Memory Patterns

Is Google Messing with Your Mind? Search Alters Memory Patterns

Jennifer Welsh, LiveScience Staff Writer
Date: 14 July 2011 Time: 02:00 PM ET
computer, internet, google, yahoo, search engine
Search engines are making people more likely to rely on computers to “remember” things for them, computers and online search engines have become a kind of external memory system that can be accessed at will — and that human memory is adapting to it.
CREDIT: Simon Cataudo

Whether the Internet is making us smarter or stupider may be up for debate, but new research shows that search engines are changing the way we learn and remember things.

People are using the Internet as an external “expert” to be accessed at will. This phenomenon, called transactive memory, isn’t new; it’s been around as long as humans have communicated. We’ve always relied on experts within our group (which used to be other humans) and, with the invention of the printing press, stored information in books. In those cases, we had to remember only who or what held the information.

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