There is now something called ‘the Google Effect’. Doesn’t ring a bell? Well, there is. Someone may have mentioned it before but you’ve forgotten.
It’s a relatively new phenomenon studied at Columbia and Harvard from a paper published in 2011. It appears people don’t remember important information they just remember where it is stored.
So, you may not remember that the Battle Of Hastings took place in 1066 but you will remember that it is stored in your ‘Important English History’ file.
It’ s interesting in the fact that we now use computers as an extension of our own brains. While our memory can’t remember individual facts, it knows where to find them. Which is great, but if you’re in a Pub Quiz, you’re scuppered.
This isn’t really all that new, P-Technology has been doing this for years (Paper Technology). You may not remember your PIN number so you write it down.
Your password for your computer may prove elusive so some people write it down on a Post-It and put it in their wallet. All you have to do is remember where you put it.
You may not remember that Adenosine Tri-Phosphate is broken down in the muscles to produce Adenosine Di-Phosphate plus a phosphate molecule releasing energy, lactic acid and carbon dioxide – but you know that fact is in your O’level biology file.
What we are forgetting doing all this, is that the brain has an amazing storage capacity for information. It just needs to be exercised properly.
If you need to remember something you repeat it to yourself. Memory experts say you can create a memory palace where you associate places you know well with a piece of information. I’ve tried it, it works.
I have also read books on my Kindle and completely forgotten I have read them. Why? Because of my reliance on an electronic device to store accessible information for me.
Holding a new book stimulates more of your senses. Looking at the cover picture. Feeling the pages as they turn. The smell of the new paper. These all help build up strong memories. Reading a Kindle doesn’t. (I’m not giving up my Kindle by the way. To remember stuff I’ll re-read it a few times.)
Our memories and our brains are changing with new technology. There may come a time when we plug our brains straight into our laptops.
Scientists at Berkeley are developing a program that recognises the pattern of brain activity while you are asleep so it can re-create dreams.
We’re using the structure of DNA to help store massive amounts of data.
It’s all scary and fascinating at the same time. Who knows, one day they may be able to store a person’s brain patterns on a positronic brain, so they in effect become immortal.
But then, what happens to our humanity?