Digital Devices Help in Improving Memory

UNESCO Urges Appropriate Use of Technology in Education

Most of the parents are much worried about their children using smart phones as they often find them addicted to the digital devices. But a new study now shows that using digital devices, such as smartphones, can help improve memory skills rather than causing people to become lazy or forgetful.

Journal of Experimental Psychology: General pubklished the study. It showed that digital devices help people to store and remember very important information. This, in turn, frees up their memory to recall additional less important things.


Earlier neuroscientists had expressed concerns that overuse of technology could lead to the breakdown of cognitive abilities and cause “digital dementia”. However, the new study points out that digital device as external memory not only help people to remember the information saved into the device but also helps them to remember unsaved information too.


To demonstrate this, the researchers developed a memory task to be played on a touch screen digital tablet or computer. 158 volunteers aged between 18 and 71 undertook the test.

The Participants were shown up to 12 numbered circles on the screen and had to remember to drag some of these to the left and some to the right. The number of circles that they remembered to drag to the correct side determined their pay at the end of the experiment. One side designated ‘high value’, meaning that remembering to drag a circle to this side was worth 10 times as much money as remembering to drag a circle to the other ‘low value’ side.

Participants performed this task 16 times. They had to use their own memory to remember on half of the trials and allowed to set reminders on the digital device for the other half.

The results found that participants tended to use the digital devices to store the details of the high-value circles. In addition, when they did so, they found that their memory for those circles improved by 18%. Their memory for low-value circles also improved by 27%, even in people who had never set any reminders for low-value circles.

However, results also showed a potential cost to using reminders. When taken away, the participants remembered the low-value circles better than the high-value ones, showing that they had entrusted the high-value circles to their devices and then forgotten about them.

Senior author, Dr Sam Gilbert (UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience) said: “We wanted to explore how storing information in a digital device could influence memory abilities.

“We found that when people were allowed to use an external memory, the device helped them to remember the information they had saved into it. This was hardly surprising, but we also found that the device improved people’s memory for unsaved information as well.

“This was because using the device shifted the way that people used their memory to store high-importance versus low-importance information. When people had to remember by themselves, they used their memory capacity to remember the most important information. But when they could use the device, they saved high-importance information into the device and used their own memory for less important information instead.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here