How bad are Google and smartphones for our brains?

Two psychologists at the University of Waterloo – Evan Risko and Sam Gilbert – evaluated what has been done in the area of ​​“ cognitive discharge ”. Cognitive discharge is basically the idea that it is possible to assign the functions of your brain power to a device, to save space in your brain.

They found that research suggests that this cognitive discharge can be good and, potentially, bad for our brains …

Should we be concerned about using smartphones to remember things? Probably not. The reality is that they free up “cognitive space” in our brains, and we can focus on more complex tasks like thinking about our financial plan, or what our next vacation will be like, or whatever else you consider important in your life. ”

Study : Cognitive offloading (Trends in Cognitive Sciences)

  • Summary: If you’ve ever tilted your head to perceive a rotated image, or programmed a smartphone to remind you of a future appointment, you’ve engaged in cognitive discharging : using physical action to alter the information and processing requirements of a task. to reduce cognitive demand. Despite the ubiquity of this type of behavior, it has only recently become the subject of systematic investigation itself. We reviewed research that focuses on two main questions: (i) what mechanisms trigger cognitive discharge, and (ii) what are the cognitive consequences of this behavior? We offer a metacognitive framework that integrates the results from several areas and suggest paths for future research.

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