human body, wellness

A new study has found that storing important information in a digital device frees up the mind to remember other, less important details — which otherwise would be crowded out by the important stuff.

It suggests that tech might be improving our memories, contrary to the popular notion that tech is giving us all “digital dementia.”

Some experts believe our reliance on tech — and not our memories — is giving us all “digital dementia.”

Digital dementia: If you want to remember something, you likely save it in an electronic device. We didn’t have that luxury just a couple decades ago, meaning we needed to memorize a lot more information.

Some experts have warned that this widespread outsourcing of memory to tech is causing an epidemic of digital dementia — essentially, because we aren’t using our memories as much, we’re losing the skill and experiencing a decline in our cognitive abilities.

The knowledge gap: If those experts are right, it could mean people should rethink how they and their children should use electronic devices. But current research has yet to prove that the phenomenon of digital dementia even exists.

“The relationships between brain function and behaviors related to [technology] use is still developing,” Marc Potenza, a professor of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine, told Discover Magazine in 2021.

Subscribe for counterintuitive, surprising, and impactful stories delivered to your inbox every Thursday

“Larger studies, longitudinal studies, are going to be very helpful in understanding more specifics regarding how specific types and patterns of internet use may be influencing people and influencing them at a brain-behavior relationship,” he continued.

Current research has yet to prove that the phenomenon of digital dementia even exists.

What’s new? Now, researchers at University College London (UCL) have published a study that suggests storing information in devices may actually improve our memory skills — contradicting the concept of digital dementia.

“We found that when people were allowed to use an external memory, the device helped them to remember the information they had saved into it,” said senior author Sam Gilbert. “This was hardly surprising, but we also found that the device improved people’s memory for unsaved information as well.”

In other words, storing some information digitally even helps you remember things you didn’t store.

The study: In the study, 158 adult volunteers were shown up to 12 circled numbers on a touchscreen. They then had to remember to move certain numbers to the left and others to the right.

Participants received money for each correct move they made during the experiment, and the numbers on one side were dubbed “high value,” meaning they got more money for getting those numbers right.

Each person completed the task 16 times. During half of the attempts, they were allowed to set reminders on a digital device, but they had to rely on only their memories for the other rounds.

Storing some information digitally helps you remember things you didn’t store.

Unsurprisingly, people tended to set reminders for the high value numbers, which improved their ability to remember them by 18%. However, people also got better at remembering the low-value numbers, by 27% — even when they didn’t set any reminders about them.

According to UCL’s Gilbert, by storing the most important information on the device, participants freed up their own memory capacity for the less important information.

“The results show that external memory tools work,” he explained. “Far from causing ‘digital dementia’, using an external memory device can even improve our memory for information that we never saved.”

“If a memory tool fails, we could be left with nothing but lower-importance information in our own memory.”

SAM GILBERT

The warning: The experiment also confirmed one potential downfall to our reliance on tech: When the reminders were taken away from participants, they remembered the low-value circles better than the high-value ones.

“We need to be careful that we back up the most important information,” said Gilbert. “Otherwise, if a memory tool fails, we could be left with nothing but lower-importance information in our own memory.”

This article was originally published on our sister website, Freethink.

TECH NEWS RELATED

7 Tips to Improve Your Sleep Quality

Life can move fast. It can be overwhelming, with stressors, distractions, and deadlines. There is one thing everyone can agree on: managing your sleep schedule is fundamental when it comes to physical and mental health alike. Check out seven tips to create a bedtime routine below. Creating a Bedtime Routine ...

View more: 7 Tips to Improve Your Sleep Quality

NASA says InSight Lander’s survival relies on Martian weather now

The tales surrounding NASA’s InSight Lander have been quite the rollercoaster. From glitches in the lander to dust-caked solar panels, the Martian research craft has been put through the wringer. Earlier this year, NASA shared that InSight was dying and that the space agency had no plans to save ...

View more: NASA says InSight Lander’s survival relies on Martian weather now

Motorola Revou2 Smart TVs Launched in India, Prices Start at Rs 10,999

Motorola has expanded its smart TV lineup in India. The company launched the Motorola Revou2 series of smart TVs. The new Motorola smart TVs come with sound tuned by boAt. Motorola has launched its new smart TV series in three screen sizes. The base model comes with a 32-inch ...

View more: Motorola Revou2 Smart TVs Launched in India, Prices Start at Rs 10,999

Plant-Based Meat Is “Healthier and More Sustainable”

40% of conventional meat products were classified as “less healthy” compared to just 14% of plant-based alternatives according to recent research. New benefits of plant-based meats discovered. According to the authors of a new study, plant-based dietary substitutes for animal products are healthier for both the environment and people ...

View more: Plant-Based Meat Is “Healthier and More Sustainable”

NASA is about to crash a spacecraft into an asteroid. Here's why the mission could one day save humanity.

More than 6.5 million miles away from Earth, a cosmic collision is imminent. In a first-of-its-kind maneuver, a NASA spacecraft is set to intentionally smash into an asteroid to test whether deflecting a space rock could one day protect Earth from a potentially catastrophic impact. The crash is planned for ...

View more: NASA is about to crash a spacecraft into an asteroid. Here's why the mission could one day save humanity.

Eastern Canada looks to clean up as storm Fiona calms

Damage caused by Fiona on the Burnt Islands in the Newfoundland and Labrador Province of Canada. Parts of eastern Canada were waking up to damage from powerful storm Fiona on Sunday, as meteorologists said the worst weather had passed. The storm tore into Nova Scotia and Newfoundland on Saturday, ...

View more: Eastern Canada looks to clean up as storm Fiona calms

Taiwan's pangolins suffer surge in feral dog attacks

Pangolins, usually prized for their scales, brave a different danger in conservation-conscious Taiwan — a surging feral dog population. In most of its habitats, the heavily trafficked pangolin’s biggest threat comes from humans. But in Taiwan, the scaly mammals brave a different danger: a surging feral dog population. Veterinarian ...

View more: Taiwan's pangolins suffer surge in feral dog attacks

Where Does Consciousness Reside in the Brain? New Discovery Helps Pinpoint Its Location

The researchers used mouse “brain maps” to pinpoint consciousness. A recent study has identified brain network cores with strong bidirectional connections. Science may be getting closer to figuring out where consciousness resides in the brain. New research demonstrates the significance of certain kinds of neural connections in identifying consciousness. ...

View more: Where Does Consciousness Reside in the Brain? New Discovery Helps Pinpoint Its Location

Were your teen years exhausting? School schedules may be why

High roller: Dungeons & Dragons launches a die, space 'pilot' into stratosphere

Protecting Earth from asteroids is complicated and requires global cooperation

'Blade Runner 2099' live action TV show coming to Amazon Prime Video

NASA's DART asteroid mission is a rare opportunity for space-rock scientists

COVID-19 Linked With Substantial Increase in Type 1 Diabetes in Children – As Much as 72%

Italian Satellite Shares Stunning Photos of Deep Space [LOOK]

NASA James Webb, Hubble Space Telescopes To Attempt Monitoring DART as It Slams Into Dimorphos

Hot gas bubble swirls around the heart of the Milky Way

Exclusive Lovehoney discount code offers 15% off sex toys & lingerie

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 Astronauts Meet Their Dragon

MIT AI Image Generator System Makes Models Like DALL-E 2 More Creative

OTHER TECH NEWS

Top Car News Car News