Saving-enhanced memory in the real world

AbstractPeople frequently offload cognitive tasks onto the environment by, for example, digitally storing information they want to remember later. This frees up cognitive resources, leading to an increased ability to learn new information (the “Saving-Enhanced Memory Effect”). We tested whether this effect would generalize beyond the digital realm. On every trial, participants studied two printed lists of words before being tested on their memory for both lists. For half the trials, participants shredded the first list before attempting to learn the second one. For the remaining trials, they saved the first word list in a folder before learning the second list. Results revealed a robust Saving-Enhanced Memory Effect, as people remembered more words on average from the second list when they had saved the initial word list. These findings suggest that the effects of offloading memories onto the external world are similar for information stored in digital and physical formats.

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