According to a recent research, setting up smartphone or Post-it note reminders for crucial chores will increase the completion of these action items as well as improve your memory of less urgent topics that you haven’t written down. That’s because, in accordance with a study published this week in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, the act of setting an external reminder for such “high-value” tasks alters the way that you use your memory and makes room in the brain for additional information.
Adult participants in the study had to keep in mind to move numbered circles to various edges of a screen. A “high value” side and a “low value” side were assigned to each side. When circles were moved correctly to the former, participants received extra money.
People’s performance improved as anticipated for high-value circles when given the option to save information about the circles on digital devices, but it improved even more for low-value circles. Prioritizing seemed to consume a lot of people’s mental energy. People seemed to be able to hold far more knowledge that they deemed less-valuable in their heads when that activity might be outsourced.
We wanted to explore how storing information in a digital device could influence memory abilities, says Sam Gilbert, lead author of the study and cognitive neuroscientist at University College London. The results show that external memory tools work.
According to Gilbert, the research debunks concerns that excessive use of technology can impair people’s cognitive abilities and lead to “digital dementia.” However, there are a few exceptions to that.
For example, more study is required on smartphones in particular and how they affect the memory.
Another point is that if you’re going to rely on an outside brain, it better be trustworthy. Gilbert cautions that if you don’t, you run the risk of forgetting to complete your most crucial activities while remembering to do a number of less crucial ones.
It might be evident that using reminders can improve your memory. But according to Kevin McConway, a professor of applied statistics at the Open University in England, the history of cognitive research is filled with examples when common sense was proven to be wrong. According to McConway, more research of this kind should be conducted, particularly in regards to smartphones and human behavior.