Can Smartphones improve memory? What do studies say?

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Can Smartphones improve memory? What do studies say?


While majority believe that using smartphone too much is the cause behind being forgetful and brings about laziness in a person, there is another study conducted by researchers at UCL that says otherwise.

The research is published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology demonstrated that digital devices can improve memory skills. It states some facts related to smartphone usage as per the study conducted in a closed group of people. Let us understand more about it.

When it comes to using or indulging more in the usage of smartphone neurologists are often concerned about digital dementia.

However, as per the UCL study the researchers are of the belief that when smartphones are used for remembering essential information then the user is able to free up their memory and make room for additional information that helps them recall things of less importance easily.

As per the study, using digital devices as external memory is where people are able to better recall and remember information easily; additionally they are also able to remember information that is unsaved on the device, thus enhancing their overall memory.

Do smartphones enhance memory?

Through the use of memory task gaming researchers were able to determine that tablet and computer users 158 volunteers 18-71 yo participants helped with the following findings:

  • With 12 numbered circles on the screen the volunteers were given the task to drag these as per their memory to either left or right.
  • The correct side where the participants were able to register for better memory were concluded at the end of the experiment.
  • High value side designed to dragging the circle to this end would be paid in monetary gain with 10 times more money the low side was opposite to it.
  • Participants performing the task 16 times were using memory retention power in half of the trials were allowed to set digital reminders on their device.
  • The high value circles details stored by the volunteers on their devices were able to register enhanced memories that improved by 18 %.
  • Even the low value circles memory were said to be doing better when they set no reminders at all.

The study suggests that using smartphones enhances memory recall and retention power in individuals who use it. However, another fact got highlighted in the study was that when reminders were taken away from volunteers, the participants could only recall low-value circles.

This suggests that the high-value circles were recalled only when the smartphone would remind them, freeing up the space to remember or recall low value circles. Information when entrusted with smartphone reminder was off their memory list, information of lesser importance made its way in their memory.

What about digital dementia?

When external memory like smartphone were given or available to the volunteers they were able to remember the saved information on the device. The surprising fact is that using smartphone as an extension to memory helps in enhancing the memory of the smartphone user with unsaved information too.

All this is the result of using smartphone that helps in shifting the way users were able to interact with their own memory receptors for storing information of high value importance vs low value importance.

Remembering things on their own, users were able to use their memory ability for remembering important information. In contrast when they were having an option to use a smartphone they were using it for saving information of high value and use their own memory for remembering information of lesser importance.

Nonetheless, the study does not conclude that indulging in overuse of smartphone is not dangerous to memory; it only states that using it for the purpose of storing high value information helps the brain to remember and make way to save things of lesser importance.

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