How to remember more information?

The very act of writing something down, such as a file on the computer, can improve our memory for the next piece of information we come across.

This is according to the results of a new study published in Psychological Science, the journal of the Association for Psychological Science. The scientists who conducted the study found that the very act of writing down helps free up cognitive resources that can be used to remember new information.

“Our results show that people significantly improve abilities to perceive and remember new information when they have written down the previous one. – says the psychologist and author of the study Benjamin Storm from the University of California – Santa Cruz.

“The idea is very simple: Recording acts as a form of offloading. This ensures that certain information will be digitally accessible, and we are able to reallocate cognitive resources from maintaining this information and to focus instead on memorizing new information,” adds Storm.

Benjamin Storm and Sean Stone, a former graduate student at the University of California – Santa Cruz, were interested in exploring the interaction between memory and technology.

Although previous research points to the idea that recording information on digital devices, such as a computer or camera, makes it harder to recall later, the psychologist and former student suggests there may be a positive effect of data recording-induced forgetting.

“We tend to think when we have forgotten, it actually means our memory is poor, but research shows that forgetting information is essential for adaptive memory function and cognitive abilities,” explains Storm.

For the first study, the researchers recruited 20 college students who used computers to open and study a pair of PDF files (file A and B). Each of the files contained a list of 10 nouns.

Students had 20 seconds to learn the first file before closing it. During the 20 seconds during which they studied the second file, the volunteers were given a quick test to see how many of the nouns they had read a few minutes earlier they could recall.

Only afterwards were they asked what they remembered from file A.

It is important to note that half of the students participating in the experiment were instructed by the scientists to save file A in a specific folder after learning it. And the other half of the group should just close the file.

Just as the researchers expected, the students remembered more words from File C when they saved File A than if they just closed it. A second experiment was conducted with a separate group of 48 non-learners.

But a second study also found that the effects of recording the information on memory depended on how reliable the students thought the retention process was.

When students were told that the saved version file A might not be maintained and therefore its contents inaccessible, the relationship between memory abilities and the recording of the information was not observed.

And when the volunteers believed that the recording of the information on the electronic device was unreliable, their memory of file B was the same, regardless of whether they recorded file A.

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