Researchers look at how brain power is affected by digital technologies (CBC News):
“…how much is our reliance on smartphones as memory aides affecting the way our brains work?
Two psychologists from the University of Waterloo — Evan Risko and Sam Gilbert — looked at the research that has been done in the field of “cognitive offloading”…Cognitive offloading is basically the idea that you can assign the duties of your brain power onto a device, to save your brain space.
They found the research suggests this cognitive offloading can be both good, and potentially bad, for our brains…
Should we be concerned about using smartphones to remember things? Probably not. The reality is that it does free up cognitive real estate in our brains, and we can focus on more complex tasks like thinking about our financial plan, or where our next vacation will be, or whatever else you deem important in your life.”
Study: Cognitive Offloading (Trends in Cognitive Sciences)
- Summary: If you have ever tilted your head to perceive a rotated image, or programmed a smartphone to remind you of an upcoming appointment, you have engaged in cognitive offloading: the use of physical action to alter the information processing requirements of a task so as to reduce cognitive demand. Despite the ubiquity of this type of behavior, it has only recently become the target of systematic investigation in and of itself. We review research from several domains that focuses on two main questions: (i) what mechanisms trigger cognitive offloading, and (ii) what are the cognitive consequences of this behavior? We offer a novel metacognitive framework that integrates results from diverse domains and suggests avenues for future research.
To learn more:
- What are cognitive abilities and how to boost them?
- Ten critical questions to navigate media coverage of latest scientific findings
- Study: High television viewing and low physical activity can significantly worsen long-term cognitive function
- Check out the presentation Technologies of the extended mind, by Dr. Peter Reiner (starting with slide 70):