In details

Digital addiction "erodes" human memory, study says

A new study from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom stated that overconfidence in using computers and search engines is weakening people's memories.

That is, common sense has just gained scientific backing: using computers instead of memorizing information is leaving us oblivious.

For example, in the study, many adults who could still remember their childhood phone numbers could not remember their current job number or family members' phone numbers.

Memory habits of 6,000 adults in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg were analyzed.

More than a third used computers first to remember information - especially in the United Kingdom, where more than half of people searched online for an answer first.

The study suggests that relying on a computer in this way has a long-term impact on memory development, because such information can often be immediately forgotten.

Brain not exercised

"Our brain seems to reinforce a memory every time we remember it, while forgetting irrelevant memories that are distracting us," said study author Maria Wimber.

The process of remembering information is “a very efficient way of creating a permanent memory,” according to the researcher. "In contrast, passively repeating information, such as repeatedly searching it on the Internet, does not create a solid memory trace in the same way."

Do not remember

Among adults surveyed in the UK, 45% could remember the telephone number of the house where they lived at 10 years of age, while only 29% could remember their own children's phone numbers, and 43% could remember the telephone number. your current workplace.

The ability to remember the number of a romantic partner was lower in the UK than in any other European country. 51% of respondents in the UK knew their partner's phone number, for example, compared with almost 80% in Italy.

False sense of security

People have become accustomed to using technological devices as an "extension" of their own brain. So there has been a rise in what might be called “digital amnesia,” where people don't mind forgetting important information in the belief that such information can be immediately retrieved on a digital device.

In addition to storing factual information, there is a tendency to keep personal memories in digital format as well, such as photographs of important moments. If they only exist on a smartphone, there is a risk that they will be extinguished if the device is lost or stolen, which many do not seem to take into account.