Search engines make us forgetful - Macleans.ca

Search engines make us forgetful

Brain’s first response to questions: “where’s my computer?”

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The Internet is making it more difficult for humans to remember certain types of information.

When presented with trivial questions, the human brain’s first thought is often about how to look up that information online, than the answer to the question. That’s according to new research printed today in the journal Science.

“We can “Google” the old classmate, find articles online, or look up the actor who was on the tip of our tongue,” they write. “When people expect to have future access to information, they have lower rates of recall of the information itself and enhanced recall instead for where to access it.”

Memories about where to find facts (rather than memories of facts themselves) are called “transactive memories.” They may explain why younger contestants fare so badly on the trivia show… what’s-it-called… with what’s-his-face Trebek. Hold on a minute. I need to look something up.