Breaking news, you guys! All that internet cruising is making affecting your memory in not-so-good ways, maybe.
A new study out of Columbia had people type random bits of trivia into a computer—half of them believed the trivia nuggets would be saved, and the other half thought the trivia would be erased. What the scientists found is that subjects were more likely to remember the trivia if they they didn't think they'd be able to look it up later. Those who thought they could go back to the computer "did not make the effort to remember" the information. A second component of the experiment involved subjects trying to remember both the trivia and which out of five folders it was saved in—and, surprise surprise, people were better at remembering the folder than the information itself.
The experiments were designed to help explain transactive memory, the idea that we store information through our friends, family and reference material around us. Betsy Sparrow, the scientist in charge of the experiment, told the Times that although there's more to be explored, she's concluded that the Internet has become our "primary external storage system," which, of course, really means that computers are just one step closer to completely taking over our brains.