This is How Google is Changing Your Memory

What’s the name of that movie? He who has the actor who made that series there on lies? Wait, let me see here (smartphone). Oh, it’s Tim Roth!

This scene, which occurred to me during a barroom conversation, illustrates a phenomenon that has been called the “Google effect”: both use the technology to obtain information get used to not retain them in memory; if you need to know something quickly, a look on Google solves. But how is this beneficial?

This behavior has been strongly perceived in educational institutions. Many students no longer turn to the library before and give little importance to the memory, which can compromise learning processes. In companies, younger employees can be lost in making decisions if they have the technology as a means for this.

As well Google effect?

Google effect informally received this name around 2010, when it began to be studied diligently. Since then, the phenomenon has gained more strength because of this device there that is very close to you: the smartphone.

In 2010, mobile devices were already widely used for internet access, but desktops and laptops still dominated. Today, the reality is quite different: for reasons of cost and practicality, many people even have a PC at home, delegating Internet access entirely to the smartphone.

The practicality is undeniable. You need to know if tomorrow is a holiday? Take the pocket and cell research. What is the ideal temperature to drink wine? Idem. What subway station is the nearest that shopping? Google Maps. How is “trillion” in Spanish? Google Translator. It is “mozzarella” or “mozzarella”? Refer to Google Now.

Examples refer to Google, but quick access to information is not limited to the company’s services. Today we have at our disposal applications to exchange, restaurant guide, rating movies, weather, the result of games sports, real – time translation, recipes, calendar and so on.

What’s the problem?

Everything is so easy, so immediately on the internet. What can be wrong with that? According to researchers, just using both the technology that the brain adapts to this behavior without understanding: the internet appears with an endless and permanent feature, so it is not necessary to memorize both. If we are thirsty, we drink water. If we are cold, we bundled up. If you need to know something, ask Google.

Betsy Sparrow, psychology professor at Columbia University, is a great scholar of the subject. She points out that the human brain seeks, above all, efficiency: the body realize that more is worth knowing how to effectively find information than save it, will prioritize the first behavior.

There’s the breaking point: the excellent become in finding information. Current generations know how to combine keywords in Google or trigger the right application for each type much faster and effective way activity that a person who was so immersed in the technological evolution.

The “symptom” more present is forgetfulness of everyday things, such as home phone or the name of a much-admired artist. But the point of greatest concern is that this new way of doing things can interfere with skills and processes that are critical on a daily basis.

One of the tests conducted by Sparrow in his studies was quite simple: a group of volunteers was given the task of typing on the computer curio phrases such as “the eye of the ostrich is bigger than its brain.” All were instructed to memorize as much as possible claims. Subsequently, the group was divided into two. The first was informed that the information typed would be erased. The second, no. In the final step, which was to reveal the stored statements, the group did not know that the information would be erased had worse performance.

In the learning environment, this behavior may hinder the development of logical thinking and the ability to analyze and compare information. This is because the individual ends up finding no real need to study the subject in depth.

Elsewhere in the survey, volunteers underwent a Stroop test, which measures our reaction when we encounter colors out of context, for example, the word ‘blue’ written in yellow. The task was to identify the colors of words regardless of their meaning. If you take longer to identify or remember a color, it means that probably the word associated with it is more important to you.

Well, the Sparrow team noted that participants had more difficulties to process colors related to names like ‘Yahoo’ and ‘Google’, especially after facing tough questions, suggesting that the first impulse of these people is to look on the internet answers to questions they can not answer.

This dependence can leave a person lost when she can not access the internet or the difficulty to focus on other means of obtaining information (a library, for example), too tired.

People can also have difficulty estimating efforts or the ability to solve problems. A study conducted by Adrian F. Ward, of Harvard University, showed that a group of volunteers had less performance on a test of what they thought they would. For them, it’s as if the Internet were an extension of the brain. If the information is there and you have immediate access to it, it becomes more difficult to measure what is known and what is unknown.

Phew, we’re not getting donkeys

This means that we are getting less intelligent or anything like that? No. You must take into account that the Internet provides the increased amount of information with which we deal in short time intervals, so the this Google effect can also be seen as a way that the brain found not to be (as ) overloaded. Notifications of various applications, email, social networking, instant messaging, news … It’s a lot to process.

It is not difficult to understand this mechanism. If you have a single appointment for the next week, probably remember it. But if they are several, it is good to have everything on a schedule. Given this large volume of information, the brain will prioritize the mechanism that gives access to them (in this case, remind you to always check your calendar). Thus, short-term memory is free for other tasks.

Betsy Sparrow and other researchers call this transactional memory. What we are seeing here is that the brain behaves the same way in relation to the Internet. As there the load information is much higher, the behavior portrayed by the so-called Google effect becomes standard.

Thus, the perception of Google effect is a warning, fundamentally. Not bad terms so easily to obtain information, but it is important we use the resources available balance. As a rule, all excess is bad. Fortunately, it’s easier than it sounds.

It is known that at the time of study, handwriting instead of typing usually have much effect on memorization and consequently in understanding the idea. If we are on a tour, we will have more cognitive benefits and satisfaction if we are not all the time concerned to take pictures or shoot.

board games or cards, for example, also help to keep our skills of reasoning and memory sharp. The habit of reading books as well (but it has to be same habit).

For those who care about the subject, above all, it is worthwhile to reflect on the online habits and, from there, try to apply the necessary adjustments. You wonder if you could perform a certain task without Internet queries or to submit to Google help without knowledge tests can be a good way to start.