What does technology do to our memory?
As we become more reliant on our smartphones, we run the risk of living in a world of ‘digital amnesia’. No longer requiring to remember information such as phone numbers and directions means that we are losing some of the capabilities of our memory. This helpful infographic from Wink Bingo explores some of the ways in which technology can be stunting the potential of our powers of recall. It also provides some handy tips for training your brain and boosting your memory, so you can avoid becoming a victim of digital amnesia!
When it comes to phone numbers, research has shown that our memories are not terribly good. While 49% of people could not remember their parents’ phone numbers, 71% could not recall their children’s numbers. Interestingly, 47% of people could still recall their phone number from when they were aged between 10 and 15, with greater importance being placed on remembering numbers when they were young – thereby pushing their memories to work harder.
When comparing the memories of millennials with those aged 55 and over, it appears that millennials are more likely to forget everyday things such as their keys and what day it is. Forgetting someone’s name, however, seems more common for those 55+ – potentially younger people are using the part of their memory associated with names more frequently, meeting more new people as they change jobs, houses, start university etc.
Remembering directions meanwhile is a skill which has been weakened by sat navs. London cabbies have a larger hippocampus than other people – the part of the brain responsible for navigation and memory. This is because they have to memorize huge amounts of routes for a test called The Knowledge. Sat nav users meanwhile (now 52% of British drivers) have been shown to be worse at remembering routes and noticing signs whilst driving.
Training your brain: Mnemonics
So what can you do to help keep your memory working to its best ability? Mnemonics are an excellent tool for translating information into a more easily remembered format, and rely on a combination of processes. Imagination is one – the more strongly you visualize a situation, the better it will stay in your mind. Association meanwhile involves linking the thing you are remembering with something else – colors, smells, shapes and feelings all work to strengthen the memory. Location too is important – fixing an idea within a specific place in your mind (for example a city or a specific building or room) can boost your power of recall.
Some specific techniques include acronyms – the famous ‘Never Eat Shredded Wheat’ for the compass points, for example, visualization – picturing in your mind what you need to remember, rhymes, and chunking – this involves breaking information down into smaller ‘chunks’ so that it is easier to remember.
Brain games are also a brilliant way to keep your memory working well. Even incredibly simple things such as the Tray Game are very effective. This is where you put a number of objects on a tray, study them, then cover them with a cloth and write down all of the ones which you can remember. Sudoku meanwhile is great for your memory as it involves ‘rehearsing’ in your head where to put the numbers. Scientists believe that Sudoku activates synapses across the memory areas of your brain and helps to avoid the decline of memory. It can, however, become less effective over time as you can get used to it and find the game less challenging. Chess can also give your brain a good workout and depending on whether you are a newer player or a more experienced one, you’ll be training your short or long-term memory.
Finally, bingo is another highly recommended brain game for boosting your memory. Due to its combination of challenges such as memorizing number patterns, solving problems and playing with the pressure of time, bingo keeps your brain healthy in a number of ways. These include: helping to maintain the cognitive function of the brain, improving reaction time, heightening concentration, enhancing spatial awareness, helping to reduce stress, and more!
So in this age where technology may be helping us out a little too much day-to-day, playing brain games such as chess, Sudoku and bingo is a great way to give your brain a workout and prevent it from succumbing to digital amnesia!