Is the Internet replacing our own memory?
A new study takes a look at how an external memory system like the Internet affects our ability to remember information.
July 14th, 2011
02:00 PM ET

Is the Internet replacing our own memory?

Can’t remember the name of the movie you saw last year starring Emily Deschanel’s sister? Or that recipe you used for chicken salad last week?

With an Internet connection and a few keystrokes, you can probably figure out the answer in a matter of minutes, tops. But the flip side, suggests new research in the journal Science, is that when you rely on having information stored somewhere, you may be less likely to remember it yourself.

“We are becoming symbiotic with our computer tools, growing into interconnected systems that remember less by knowing information than by knowing where information can be found,” the study authors write.

But before you freak out about machines doing all your remembering for you, consider that people have always relied on each other for retrieving information, even before computers.

In fact, in any group of two or more people who know each other, there develops what’s called transactive memory systems. That means that you use other people as external memory, because they have specific knowledge and expertise that you don’t.

“The internet, when you think about it, is people putting content online. And so what it’s doing is, it’s allowing us to have access to much more external memory. Our network of people is just vastly expanded.,” said Betsy Sparrow, assistant professor of psychology at Columbia University and lead author of the study.

In one of Sparrow’s experiments, participants read and typed trivia statements that could be found online, such as “An ostrich’s eye is bigger than its brain.” Participants were told that the statements would be saved to different folders with generic names such as “Facts, etc.” They then had to write down as many of the statements as they remembered and were asked to name the folder in which the information had been saved.

Remarkably, people were much better able to recall the folder names of the trivia statements than the trivia itself. In other words, people remembered the “where” better than the “what.”

As with people accustomed to looking up their questions on resources such as Wikipedia and Google, participants may have expected information to remain available indefinitely, and so the source of the information stuck with them better than the trivia statements themselves, the study authors said.

Another experiment showed that people seem to remember information better if they believe it won’t be accessible later, and more easily forget items that they believe will always be available.

“I thought that telling people to try to remember it, even though it would be accessible, would do something. It did absolutely nothing,” Sparrow said.

But Sparrow isn’t worried that relying on external memory systems like the Internet is going to cause our brains to atrophy. There might be things that we used to know and forget, but we’ll still hang on to what’s useful on a daily basis, she said.

“The stuff that we’re experts in, that we’re the source for other people, is stuff I think we’ll always remember, regardless of whether it’s online or not,” she said.

soundoff (1,522 Responses)
  1. canadian weight loss pills

    canadian pills online https://canadapillstorex.com/ canadian pills online

    April 21, 2021 at 23:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. 먹튀검증업체


    April 22, 2021 at 00:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. buy generic cialis, canadian

    cialis, sale, canadian pharm. https://canadacialisstore.com/ counterfeit canadian drugs cialis

    April 22, 2021 at 00:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. 먹튀검증


    April 22, 2021 at 04:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. tadalafil online

    tadalafil 40 mg from india https://elitadalafill.com/ tadalafil tablets

    April 22, 2021 at 08:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. LA Weekly's List

    Precisely the sort of content that enhances the net. Thanks!


    April 22, 2021 at 15:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. vardenafil 20 mg

    vardenafil 20 mg tablets https://vegavardenafil.com/ vardenafil coupon

    April 22, 2021 at 21:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. tadalafil de 5mg

    What is tadalafil citrate http://www.boxtadafil.com
    how to spot fake tadalafil

    April 22, 2021 at 21:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. หวย

    Greetings from California! I'm bored to tears at work
    so I decided to check out your blog on my iphone during lunch break.

    I really like the knowledge you provide here and can't wait to take a look when I
    get home. I'm amazed at how quick your blog loaded on my cell phone ..
    I'm not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyways, excellent blog!

    April 23, 2021 at 03:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. vardenafil vs tadalafil

    vardenafil how to take https://vegavardenafil.com/ vardenafil hcl 20mg tab

    April 23, 2021 at 03:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. 먹튀검증커뮤니티

    I love it whenever people come together and share thoughts. Great website, continue the good work!


    April 23, 2021 at 04:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. vardenafil prices

    us prices on vardenafil https://vegavardenafil.com/ warnings for vardenafil

    April 23, 2021 at 05:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. cost of sildenafil 100 mg tablet

    sildenafil 60 https://eunicesildenafilcitrate.com/ generic sildenafil pills

    April 23, 2021 at 08:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. 먹튀

    May I just say what a relief to find somebody that genuinely knows what they are discussing over the internet. You definitely realize how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More and more people have to look at this and understand this side of your story. I was surprised that you are not more popular since you definitely possess the gift.


    April 23, 2021 at 08:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. 먹튀사이트


    April 23, 2021 at 09:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. 먹튀

    You ought to take part in a contest for one of the greatest websites on the web. I will highly recommend this blog!


    April 23, 2021 at 11:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. купить матрас в сызрани

    Hey there outstanding website! Does running a blog like this take
    a great deal of work? I've virtually no knowledge of coding but I had
    been hoping to start my own blog in the near future. Anyway, should you have any
    suggestions or tips for new blog owners please share.
    I know this is off subject however I just had to
    ask. Thank you!

    April 24, 2021 at 04:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. LA Weekly's List

    I appreciate the way you have actually concluded this blog post ...


    April 24, 2021 at 07:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. buy online alprostadil vials

    what is alprostadil https://alprostadildrugs.com/ aprostadil

    April 24, 2021 at 10:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. 먹튀검증


    April 24, 2021 at 13:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. 토토사이트


    April 24, 2021 at 15:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. LA Weekly's List

    A lot of bloggers nowadays but just a few have posts worth spending time on browsing.


    April 24, 2021 at 19:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. 먹튀검증


    April 24, 2021 at 19:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. 사설토토


    April 24, 2021 at 23:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. depositing and withdrawing

    They rated the maintenance, the employees, while the location very highly.
    Brinks Security is also very widely respected among the top rated security alarm systems available.

    This really is a restored masterpiece of design that is considered to be one of the last fully functional Edwardian double-decker theaters.
    The mechanism would work something similar to this. Are you aware that way to obtain Fedcoin, it would effectively be
    left absolve to vary endogenously, similar to how the Fed currently let's the market determine
    the way to obtain Fed paper money. The Fed would use its special powers of creation and destruction to present two-way physical convertibility between both of its existing
    liability types-paper money and electronic reserves-and Fedcoin at a consistent level of 1:1.
    The end result with this rule would be that Fedcoin could simply
    be created at the same time that an equivalent reserve or paper
    note was destroyed and, vice versa, Fedcoin could only be destroyed upon the creation of a
    brand new paper note or reserve entry. Paper currency involves all sorts of outlays
    including designing and printing notes, collecting,
    processing and storing them, in addition to constantly defending the note issue against counterfeiters.
    Some of the CAD pairings if you are planning on buying a large amount,
    you may encounter price slippage and pay a higher price that you would have
    hoped for your digital currency that they offer
    have low trading volume, meaning.

    April 25, 2021 at 03:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. 토토사이트


    April 25, 2021 at 04:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. 토토사이트


    April 25, 2021 at 05:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. 토토사이트


    April 25, 2021 at 06:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. tadalis sx

    tadalis sx https://elitadalafill.com/ order tadalafil

    April 25, 2021 at 07:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. 토토사이트


    April 25, 2021 at 11:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. juventus barcelona streaming

    Therefore, it will not be a tricky task which you get hold of these kit.|Make sure ALL your players get the proper personal instruction. Should you not get the loading phase oflink sopcast real madrid vs bayern munich the spine arm correct, it's tough for your swing or throw to get better. There are thousands of online autographs sites.|Move the ball down the field 10 yards at once. eat the clock. Finally, no football bedroom would be complete without real footballs. At one end of record will be most probable home is.|The American odds additionally called as money brands. In 1935 the Heisman Trophy, was developed to be awarded to probably the most outstanding football player. Late Olayinka John (Ayogi) was the then coach of eleven brothers.


    April 26, 2021 at 00:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. 토토사이트

    Iím amazed, I must say. Seldom do I encounter a blog thatís both educative and interesting, and without a doubt, you have hit the nail on the head. The issue is an issue that too few folks are speaking intelligently about. I'm very happy that I found this during my hunt for something regarding this.


    April 26, 2021 at 04:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. 토토사이트

    I needed to thank you for this great read!! I certainly loved every little bit of it. I have got you book-marked to look at new stuff you postÖ


    April 26, 2021 at 12:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. 토토사이트

    Great post. I will be dealing with many of these issues as well..


    April 26, 2021 at 16:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. sildenafil cheapest price

    where to buy sildenafil in canada https://eunicesildenafilcitrate.com/ sildenafil over the counter

    April 26, 2021 at 17:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. chloroquin

    chloroquine tablets amazon https://chloroquineorigin.com/ chloraquine

    April 26, 2021 at 18:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. erection pills online viagra

    erectile pill sponsored by doctor oz https://canadaerectiledysfunctionpills.com/ erectile clinic

    April 26, 2021 at 20:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. สล็อตโจ๊กเกอร์

    ชั่วโมงนี้ คนใดที่สนใจอยากจะสนุกกับเกมสล็อตออนไลน์ คนไหนที่ต้องการจะเล่นเกมคาสิโนได้เงินจริง พวกเราขอชี้แนะให้ลูกค้าทุกคนได้สมัครเข้ามาร่วมเล่นเกมกับเว็บไซต์ของพวกเรา
    Joker Slot เล่นสนุกสนาน หาเงินใช้จากการเล่นเกมโทรศัพท์มือถือได้อย่างง่ายดายใช้เวลาเพียงไม่นาน พวกเราก็ได้รับเงินมาแล้วจากการเล่นเกมคาสิโนออนไลน์ ทำเงินจากการเล่นเกมคาสิโน วันละ 1,000 บาท วันละ 5,000 บาท ไม่ใช่เรื่องยาก เล่นได้เงินจำนวนมากขนาดไหน เราก็พร้อมที่จะจ่ายเงินให้กับลูกค้าทุกคนที่เข้ามาร่วมเล่นเกมคาสิโนออนไลน์กับเรา

    ร่วมสนุกสนานกับเกมคาสิโน Joker Slot รวมทั้งลุ้นรับโบนัสแจ็คพอตจากการเล่นเกมสล็อตออนไลน์กับเว็บโจ๊กเกอร์ 123 เว็บไซต์ที่มีเงินโบนัสแตกง่ายที่สุดในช่วงเวลานี้ เว็บไซต์ที่จะมามอบความสนุกสนานสำหรับการเล่นเกมคาสิโนออนไลน์
    เพิ่มมิติ เพิ่มลูกเล่น และก็เพิ่มความสบายสบายสำหรับเพื่อการเล่นเกมคาสิโนออนไลน์ให้กับลูกค้าทุกคนที่ต้องการจะเล่นเกมส์การเดิมพัน เข้ามาทดลองด้วยตัวเอง สมัครร่วมเล่นเกมคาสิโนออนไลน์กับเว็บไซต์ของพวกเราในเวลานี้ พวกเรามีโปรโมชั่นพิเศษมากมายรวมทั้งคอย
    support ลูกค้าทุกคน มีโปรโมชั่นพิเศษเยอะแยะไว้รอ เพิ่มเงินลงทุน เพิ่มสิทธิพิเศษสำหรับการเล่นเกมคาสิโนออนไลน์

    April 26, 2021 at 23:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. avanafil

    buy avana online buy avanafil online

    April 27, 2021 at 05:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. 온라인바둑이

    This is a topic that is close to my heart... Cheers! Exactly where are your contact details though?


    April 27, 2021 at 07:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. brawl stars apk indir

    We're a group of volunteers and opening a new scheme in our
    community. Your web site offered us with valuable information to work on. You've done a formidable
    job and our entire community will be thankful to you.

    April 27, 2021 at 07:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. 바둑이

    This blog was... how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I've found something that helped me. Thanks a lot!


    April 27, 2021 at 11:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. 온라인바둑이


    April 27, 2021 at 12:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. juventus signings

    High rep C&P is a really good exercise but may be challenging to do using a barbell.|Person will comprise top 5 fantasy football QB the moment next period. Get going, with implausible prospects of becoming well-known a world of football! Ought to you deadlift great form, you're fine.|The football draw game – extraordinary bxh la liga 2019 them it's really? But, most coaches focus on 40-speed when in reality increasing football game speed is the crucial element. Now it has grown up to be a great corporate.|But, for a lot of guys, this might be in excess of 700-lbs.In addition to these not being big ticket items, do supporters would like these football fundraising aspects?|However, you aren't satisfied with the collection of merchandises you have.For example, the "E" Bell rings whenever Navy beats Army in most of the three seasons of distraction.|Therefore if they play inside, knowledge to create football field very trivial.In the following practices the right gifts tempo up and evaluate them once again.|A team that has internal problems and conflicts has chances of failure. Nowadays, all of us have access to information everywhere you look they want. Now you should look at the forthcoming matches and compare the teams' ratings.|Over 24 years of coaching youth football.


    April 27, 2021 at 12:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. jersey

    As a Newbie, I am continuously browsing online for articles that can aid me. Thank you


    April 27, 2021 at 14:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. 바둑이사이트

    Hi, I do believe this is a great blog. I stumbledupon it 😉 I'm going to return yet again since I book marked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to help other people.


    April 27, 2021 at 15:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. 바둑이게임

    Hi, I do think this is a great site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I am going to revisit once again since i have book marked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide others.


    April 27, 2021 at 15:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. 바둑이사이트

    Iím impressed, I must say. Seldom do I come across a blog thatís equally educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you've hit the nail on the head. The issue is an issue that too few men and women are speaking intelligently about. Now i'm very happy that I found this in my search for something concerning this.


    April 27, 2021 at 22:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. 온라인카지노

    What i don't realize is in fact how you're no longer really
    a lot more well-appreciated than you might be right now.

    You are very intelligent. You understand therefore considerably with regards to
    this subject, produced me for my part believe it from a lot of numerous angles.
    Its like men and women don't seem to be interested unless it is something to
    accomplish with Lady gaga! Your personal stuffs nice. All the time deal with it

    April 28, 2021 at 01:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. brawl stars gem generator no human verification 2021

    Hi, I want to subscribe for this blog to obtain newest updates, therefore where can i do it please assist.

    Here is my homepage: brawl stars gem generator no human verification 2021

    April 28, 2021 at 02:20 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.