We think about memory in mechanical terms. In fact, it is an elastic function. It can be divided, transmitted and shared. Researchers say that memory is “transactive.”
Google is changing how we use our memories because it is now easier to remember how to find the what we need rather. Libraries have done this locally for a long time. Dewey Decimal System!
A Columbia University study has found that Google and other search engines are literally changing the way our brains process and retain information.
Participants [in the study] were asked to answer a series of difficult trivia questions, followed immediately by testing response times to color-coded words. The participants had much shorter reaction times for words like “Google” and “Yahoo,” indicating that the search engines were already being processed as ways to find the answers to these questions.
Then, the trivia questions were rephrased as statements, and tested for recall when they believed that the statements were available for later retrieval – like a saved search query – and when they believed it was not. When they thought they would be able to review the statement again later, recall was much lower.
Couples also use transactive memory. They regularly store information needed for living in each other’s brains. For example, one partner may not bother to remember when to rotate the car tires because he/she knows that the other partner will remember to do so. This is the source of ONE dimension of the acute grief that accompanies the death of a long-time spouse. The death of the spouse “erases” a significant part of the cognitive material that the surviving spouse needs to use in order to live.