Tuesday 22 October 2019

Internet tricks us into thinking we're smarter


Stock image
Stock image

Mike Wright

Using the internet is physically changing our brains so that we have shorter attention spans and worse memory, a major study has suggested.

A review by academics from Oxford, King's College London, Harvard and Western Sydney University, found that smartphones were also replacing our ability to remember facts, while tricking us into thinking we are smarter than we actually are.

The findings come after a global team reviewed scores of studies and experiments to assess the impact the internet has had on our brains over the last three decades.

The review found three key areas where our increasingly digitised lives were changing the way we think and behave: our ability to focus, our memories, and social behaviours.

Dr Joseph Firth, senior research fellow at Western Sydney University, said: "The key findings are that high levels of internet use could indeed impact on many functions of the brain.

"For example, the limitless stream of prompts and notifications from the internet encourages us towards constantly holding a divided attention, which in turn may decrease our capacity for maintaining concentration."

The study found evidence the internet was becoming an "external memory" as people rely more on smartphones for information. However, instead of learning new facts, the brain tended to instead log where to find the information on the internet.

Irish Independent

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