In a SPIEGEL conversation with my colleagues Maik Großekathöfer and Claus Hecking, the scientist explains how such tools influence our ability to remember: "Someone who grew up in the digital world no longer bothers to save new knowledge because they assume that to be able to access it anytime and anywhere.

Associative memory could suffer because of this.”

This part of memory allows us to store and retrieve new information because of its similarity or connection to existing knowledge.

“But if I have stored less information, I can associate less,” says Monyer. “Remembering is not a passive thing, but an active process that is heavily dependent on what we already know.

If we don’t keep the memory sharp, it will gradually atrophy.”

The good news: Because we outsource information such as telephone numbers to digital devices, we can fill the free memory space in the brain with other interesting things, such as learning new languages.

However, Monyer fears that many people will pass up this opportunity.

The result: “The brain switches off unused synapses,” she explains, “and once it’s gone, it’s gone.”

You can read the conversation here.


Yours, Julia Koch

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