Reliance on internet searches can cause poor memory, researchers at Columbia University in New York have found.
According the study published in the Science journal, an increasing number search engine users relied on their computers as a form of “external memory” which affected the wiring of their brain.
Examining the so-called "Google effect", the study of Ivy League students found people had poor recall of knowledge if the answers were easy to obtain.
Instead of discussing possible answers with friends or consulting books, they are using the internet as their main source of information.
The study, titled “Google Effects on Memory: Consequences of having information at our Fingertips,” found 34 out of 46 students tested remembered where they stored their information in folders on their computers better than they were able to recall the information itself.
Professor Betsy Sparrow, who led the study, said search engines were making answers “easy to forget” and if such answers took a while to find it was feel like "going through withdrawal".
Roddy Roediger, a psychologist at Washington University who was also involved in the study, added: "Why remember something if I know I can look it up again? In some sense, with Google and other search engines, we can off-load some of our memory demands onto machines."