Use of smartphones could help improve memory skills, explain scientists


A breakthrough finding of a study undertaken by researchers at UCL strengthens digital devices could help people improve memory skills, rather than make them lazy or lost.

The research published in Journal of Experimental Psychology: General demonstrates that digital devices help people to store and remember very important information. This helps to free their memory to remember additional less important things.

Earlier, neuroscientists have expressed concerns that overuse of technology could result in loss of cognitive skills and cause digital dementia.

On the contrary, the findings of the study show that using digital devices not only helps people to recollect information saved into the device, but also helps to recall unsaved information.

In order demonstrate this, researchers created a memory task to be played on a touchscreen digital computer or tablet. The test was taken by 158 participants in the ages from 18 to 71.

The test involved showing participants circles up to number 12 on the screen, and were asked to drag some to the right and some to the left. The number of circles that a participant remembered to take to the correct side determined money earned at the end of the experiment. Of the two sides, one was given the designation ‘high value’, which meant it carried 10 times more value to drag the circle on this side.

The participants carried out the task 16 times. This involved using their own memory to remember half of the trials, and could set reminders on the digital device for the other half.

The results revealed that participants had a leaning to use digital devices to store details of high-value circles. In doing so, the memory of the participants for those circles improved by 18%.

Edward Turner

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