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Smartphones And Other Digital Devices May Help Improve Memory, Says New Study

In many past studies, habitual involvement with smartphones and digital devices has been linked to negative impacts on cognitive abilities, such as the ability to remember, think, regulate emotion and pay attention. [1]

However, according to researchers at University College London, the use of digital devices and smartphones can help improve memory skills rather than cause people to become sluggish or forgetful. The study was published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. [2]

Take a look at the details.

About The Study

The findings of the study have shown that digital devices such as smartphones, as external memory, may help people remember not only the saved information on the device but also unsaved information.

To conduct the study, the researchers have created a memory task that can be played on touchscreen devices. The test was carried out by 158 volunteers aged 8 to 71.

They were shown up to 12 numbered circles on the screen and were instructed to remember to drag some of those circles to the left and some to the right. At the end of the experiment, their pay was determined by the number of circles they remembered to drag to the correct side. [3]

Some of the circles were assigned a low or high value, and they appeared as blue or pink for a brief moment before turning yellow, just like the circles with no value. So participants have to win points by dragging the high or low-value circles to the corresponding colour side of the screen.

The circles were moving in numerical order. Participants had to use their internal memory and remember which circles had a low or high value, even after the circle colour changed to yellow.

Participants were allowed to set reminders for low or high-value circles on the digital device during the second half of the task, while in the first half they had to remember things on their own and perform them. They performed the task around 16 times.

As a result, it was found that participants who used digital devices to store information about the high or low values, were able to remember these values well and with accuracy.

Researchers say that this could be because setting a reminder or saving information about high-value circles has allowed participants to clear their internal memory space and remember low-values, thus completing the task efficiently by remembering both the values.


Individuals tend to store high-value or important information on their devices and information of less value in their memory. They were able to remember the information that they had stored in external memory tools. This can help improve memory by storing a piece of information in a device, allowing us to forget about it for a while, and clear our minds for new information.


When people store high-value information in a device tool, they tend to forget it and get reassured that the device has safely kept their memory. At times, when smartphones or digital devices are lost, it can make them frustrated and irritated while trying to remember the piece of information.

To Conclude

There's always a risk to storing important information on digital platforms. However, this is the era of advanced technology that we live in, and digital devices such as smartphones and computers aren't going away anytime soon, considering there are also a lot of platforms that have backup options for our data to recover.

Story first published: Tuesday, August 2, 2022, 16:00 [IST]
Read more about: memory smartphone digital device
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