Facebook inflicts short-term memory loss

Browsing internet and social media provides loads of information, but is your brain apt enough to register it? Ironically, too much of social media can be snapping your brain function, researchers have found.

According to the findings of a new study, people who spend too much time browsing social media are at higher risk of suffering from short-term memory loss.

The study, conducted by researcher from Stockholm’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology, found that spending too much time online squanders memories, leading to loss of important information.

The problem, researchers say, is associated with part of the brain responsible for keeping short-term memory, or working memory. Short-term memory is required for basic communication, explains Erik Fransen, study’s lead researcher.

“Working memory enables us to filter out information and find what we need in the communication,” Fransen says. “It enables us to work online and store what we find online, but it’s also a limited resource.”

Working memory can carry information up to three to four times its capacity. “When we attempt to stuff more information in the working memory, our capacity for processing information begins to fail.”

“When you are on Facebook, you are making it harder to keep the things that are ‘online’ in your brain that you need. In fact, when you try to process sensory information like speech or video, you are going to need partly the same system of working memory, so you are reducing your own working memory capacity,” Fransen says.

“And when you try to store many things in your working memory, you get less good at processing information,” Fransen averred.

Too much of information overload also robs the brain of time it needs for its necessary ‘housekeeping’.

When relaxing, the brain tends to shift to a less active state. This state helps memory consolidation and transferring and transmitting information into memory.

“The brain is made to go into a less active state, which we might think is wasteful; but probably memory consolidation, and transferring information into memory takes place in this state. Theories of how memory works explain why these two different states are needed.

“When we max out our active states with technology equipment, just because we can, we remove from the brain part of the processing, and it can’t work,” Fransen concluded.

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