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Are search engines and the Internet hurting human memory?

Are search engines and the Internet hurting human memory?
The following is excerpted from Clive Thompson’s book Smarter Than You Think: How Technology Is Changing Our Minds for the Better, out now from the Penguin Press. Is the Internet ruining our ability to remember facts? If you’ve ever lunged for your smartphone during a bar argument (“one-hit father of twerking pop star”—Billy Ray Cyrus!), then you’ve no doubt felt the nagging fear that your in-brain memory is slowly draining away. So what’s going on? The short answer is: No. The longer answer: It’s much, much weirder than that! What’s really happening is that we’ve begun to fit the machines into an age-old technique we evolved thousands of years ago—“transactive memory.” And frankly, our brains have always been terrible at remembering details. The exception is when you’re obsessed with a subject. So humanity has always relied on coping devices to handle the details for us. But when it comes to quickly retrieving information on the fly, all day long, quickly? Related:  MemoryMemory

Is the Internet evolving into a Global Brain? Pathway to the Global Brain (five part series): Part 1: Introduction to Cybernetics Part 2: Waking Up Part 3: Agriculture and Industry Part 4-5: Coming soon! Relevant Publications: Antonov, A. 2011. Berners-Lee, T. 2000. Bingham, P.M. Bruner, E. 2007. Bostrom, N. 2004. Bostrom, N. 2005. Bostrom, N. 2005. Bostrom, N. 2006. Bostrom, N. & Yudkowsky, E. 2011. Foley, R. & Gamble, C. 2009. Goertzel, B. 2001. Goertzel, B. 2007. Hanson, R. 1998. Hanson, R. 1998. Hanson, R. 2001. Havel, I.M. 2013. Hedges, S.B. 2000. Heylighen, F. 2004. Heylighen, F. 2007. Heylighen, F. 2008. Heylighen, F. 2012. Heylighen, F. 2012. Heylighen, F. 2012. Ingman, M. et al. 2000. Kurzweil, R. 2005. Kurzweil, R. 2012. Levy, P. 1997. Larsen, C.S. 2002. Logan, R.K. 2007. Mayer-Kress, G. & Barczys, C. 1994. Maynard, S.J. & Szathmary, E. 1995. Maynard, S.J. & Szathmary, E. 2000. McBrearty, S. & Brooks, A.S. 2000. Mikkelsen, T.S. et al. 2005. Muehlhauser, L. & Salamon, A. 2012. Navarrete, A., van Schaik, C.P., & Isler, K. 2011.

TIPIDIA The Economist: Memory is not History IT IS lunchtime and the Museum of Memory in Santiago has a sprinkling of visitors. They contemplate the exhibits in silence. There is grainy footage of Hawker jets bombing the Moneda palace during General Augusto Pinochet’s coup against Salvador Allende, an elected Socialist president, on September 11th 1973. A map of Chile shows the 1,132 detention centres set up after the coup, each marked with a flashing light. In videotaped testimony, victims matter-of-factly describe the torture and sexual violence to which they were subjected. There are heartbreaking letters to imprisoned parents from their children and to families from prisoners unaware of their imminent execution. No democrat can fail to be moved by the museum. It is one of several “museums of memory” that have sprouted up across South America. There can be no doubting the importance of recalling the crimes of the past. On the bank of the River Plate sits the Memory Park, another memorial to victims of the Argentine junta.

Lifelong memories linked to stable nerve connections -- ScienceDaily Our ability to learn new information and adapt to changes in our daily environment, as well as to retain lifelong memories, appears to lie in the minute junctions where nerve cells communicate, according to a new study by NYU Langone Medicine Center researchers. The study is published online December 3 in the journal Nature. The scientists, led by Wen-Biao Gan, PhD, associate professor of physiology and neuroscience at NYU School of Medicine, discovered that a delicate balancing act occurs in the brain where neuronal connections are continually being formed, eliminated, and maintained. This feat allows the brain to integrate new information without jeopardizing already established memories, the new study suggests. Using a powerful optical imaging technique called two-photon microscopy, Dr. "We've known for a long time that the brain remodels after learning," says Dr. Dr. Despite the rise and fall of dendritic spines, the animals' brain circuitry remained overwhelmingly secure.

What Is The Global Brain? The Internet: You Are Here The Global Brain may sound like something out of a 21st century science fiction novel. But it is actually a concept that first emerged in the social and biological sciences during the late 19th century. The first interesting structure that alerted scientists to the possibility that we were a superorganism was metabolism. Ingestor – i.e., eating, drinking, inhalingConverter – i.e., digestive system, lungsDistributor – i.e., circulatory systemProducer – i.e., stem cellsExtruder – i.e., urine excretion, defecation, exhalingStorage – i.e., fat, bonesSupport – i.e., skeletonMotor – i.e., muscles And within human society, we can find analogous structure that quite perfectly mirror the functions of metabolism in individual organisms: This is all very interesting, and it makes our species look a lot like a giant, planetary superorganism. Well, understandably many 19th and early 20th century scientists did not find a global nervous system of any kind. Thank you Internet.

New algorithm helps evaluate, rank scientific literature CTD text mining technical overview (credit: Allan Peter Davis et al./PLoS ONE) Keeping up with current scientific literature is a daunting task, considering that hundreds to thousands of papers are published each day. Now researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a computer program to help them evaluate and rank scientific articles in their field. The researchers use a text-mining algorithm to prioritize research papers to read and include in their Comparative Toxicogenomics Database (CTD), a public database that manually curates and codes data from the scientific literature describing how environmental chemicals interact with genes to affect human health. “Over 33,000 scientific papers have been published on heavy metal toxicity alone, going as far back as 1926,” explains Dr. But how good is the algorithm at determining the best papers? The work was supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

Memory and stress Scientists Decipher The Formation Of Lasting Memories -- ScienceDaily Researchers at Karolinska Institutet have discovered a mechanism that controls the brain's ability to create lasting memories. In experiments on genetically manipulated mice, they were able to switch on and off the animals' ability to form lasting memories by adding a substance to their drinking water. The findings, which are published in the scientific journal PNAS, are of potential significance to the future treatment of Alzheimer's and stroke. "We are constantly being swamped with sensory impression," says Professor Lars Olson, who led the study. The ability to convert new sensory impressions into lasting memories in the brain is the basis for all learning. A research team at Karolinska Institutet has now discovered that signalling via a receptor molecule called nogo receptor 1 (NgR1) in the nerve membrane plays a key part in this process.

Pathway to the Global Brain (part 3/5): Agriculture and Industry Agriculture and Industry If you share this, please use the hashtags #GlobalBrain and/or #LongReads The Global Brain is a concept representing the hypothesized emergence of a higher-level distributed intelligence caused by human-machine communication networks on the Internet. Leading research and model-building on this phenomenon is occurring at the Global Brain Institute in Belgium. The following blog series is in preparation for my Ph.D. work on the Global Brain. I would like to create a new perspective on our evolutionary history which combines evolutionary anthropology and cybernetics. Previously in the Pathway to the Global Brain blog series: (Part 1/5): Introduction to Cybernetics (Part 2/5): Waking Up I hope you enjoy the groundwork for this work. Agriculture Agriculture During the first metasystem transition, everything that we think of as “uniquely human” first developed. Cue the agricultural revolution. The hunting transition likely had many centers. Omo Omo Energy and Control Industry

Scenius, or Communal Genius [Translations: Italian] Scenius is like genius, only embedded in a scene rather than in genes. Brian Eno suggested the word to convey the extreme creativity that groups, places or “scenes” can occasionally generate. His actual definition is: “Scenius stands for the intelligence and the intuition of a whole cultural scene. It is the communal form of the concept of the genius.” Individuals immersed in a productive scenius will blossom and produce their best work. The geography of scenius is nurtured by several factors: • Mutual appreciation — Risky moves are applauded by the group, subtlety is appreciated, and friendly competition goads the shy. • Rapid exchange of tools and techniques — As soon as something is invented, it is flaunted and then shared. • Network effects of success — When a record is broken, a hit happens, or breakthrough erupts, the success is claimed by the entire scene. The history of art and science is crammed with episodes of scenius. Camp 4 in Yosemite

Eyewitness Testimony by Saul McLeod published 2009 Eyewitness testimony is a legal term. For example they may be required to give a description at a trail of a robbery or a road accident someone has seen. Eyewitness testimony is an important area of research in cognitive psychology and human memory. Juries tend to pay close attention to eyewitness testimony and generally find it a reliable source of information. Anxiety / StressReconstructive MemoryWeapon FocusLeading Questions (Loftus and Palmer, 1974) Anxiety / Stress Anxiety or stress is almost always associated with real life crimes of violence. Clifford and Scott (1978) found that people who saw a film of a violent attack remembered fewer of the 40 items of information about the event than a control group who saw a less stressful version. However, a study by Yuille and Cutshall (1986) contradicts the importance of stress in influencing eyewitness memory. The police interviewed witnesses, and thirteen of them were re-interviewed five months later. 1.

Novel memory-enhancing mechanism in brain UC Irvine researchers have identified a novel mechanism in the brain that boosts memory. In collaboration with scientists at Germany's University of Munster, the UCI team found that a small protein called neuropeptide S can strengthen and prolong memories of everything from negative events to simple objects. According to study leader Rainer Reinscheid, UCI associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences, the discovery could provide important clues about how the brain stores memories and also lead to new treatments for Alzheimer's disease, dementia and other cognitive impairments. "Additionally, it may help us better understand post-traumatic stress disorder, which involves exaggerated memories of traumatic events," he said. In tests on mice, the researchers observed that if neuropeptide S receptors in the brain were activated immediately after a learning experience, it could be recalled for much longer and with much greater intensity.

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