August 19, 2022

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Using digital devices could help improve memory skills, study finds

3 min read

Employing electronic gadgets, such as smartphones, could help improve memory competencies rather than triggering people to turn into lazy or forgetful, finds a new study led by UCL scientists.

The research, printed in Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, showed that electronic gadgets assistance people today to retailer and recall incredibly crucial data. This, in transform, frees up their memory to remember additional considerably less crucial issues.

Neuroscientists have previously expressed fears that the overuse of technology could outcome in the breakdown of cognitive capabilities and cause “electronic dementia”.

Nonetheless, the results display that employing a digital unit as exterior memory not only allows individuals to don’t forget the info saved into the machine, but it also allows them to remember unsaved facts also.

To show this, scientists developed a memory process to be played on a touchscreen electronic tablet or computer system. The test was carried out by 158 volunteers aged amongst 18 and 71.

Individuals had been proven up to 12 numbered circles on the screen, and had to keep in mind to drag some of these to the remaining and some to the suitable. The quantity of circles that they remembered to drag to the suitable side established their shell out at the close of the experiment. 1 side was designated ‘high value’, meaning that remembering to drag a circle to this facet was worthy of 10 situations as a great deal funds as remembering to drag a circle to the other ‘low value’ aspect.

Members performed this process 16 occasions. They had to use their have memory to keep in mind on 50 % of the trials and they were allowed to set reminders on the digital system for the other 50 percent.

The success found that contributors tended to use the digital units to shop the facts of the superior-price circles. And, when they did so, their memory for all those circles was improved by 18%. Their memory for very low-benefit circles was also enhanced by 27%, even in persons who had by no means set any reminders for small-benefit circles.

Nonetheless, outcomes also showed a possible expense to applying reminders. When they ended up taken away, the contributors remembered the small-value circles superior than the superior-value types, displaying that they had entrusted the significant-price circles to their products and then overlooked about them.

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We wanted to check out how storing data in a digital product could affect memory qualities.

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We located that when persons ended up authorized to use an external memory, the product aided them to remember the info they experienced saved into it. This was rarely astonishing, but we also observed that the machine enhanced people’s memory for unsaved data as perfectly.

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This was because using the product shifted the way that persons utilized their memory to retail store substantial-worth vs . very low-relevance details. When folks experienced to don’t forget by on their own, they made use of their memory capability to don’t forget the most critical information. But when they could use the system, they saved substantial-significance information and facts into the device and employed their own memory for fewer essential details in its place.

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The success display that external memory resources operate. Far from creating ‘digital dementia’, using an exterior memory device can even make improvements to our memory for information that we never ever saved. But we want to be cautious that we back again up the most critical data. Otherwise, if a memory instrument fails, we could be left with practically nothing but lessen-relevance details in our possess memory.”

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Dr Sam Gilbert, Senior Writer, UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience

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The investigation was supported by an ESRC grant and a grant from the Independent Investigation Fund Denmark.

Resource:

Journal reference:

Dupont, D., et al. (2022) Price-based mostly routing of delayed intentions into brain-primarily based vs exterior memory shops. Journal of Experimental Psychology. doi.org/10.1037/xge0001261.