Filing words away makes room for more

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Science  09 Jan 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6218, pp. 142-143
DOI: 10.1126/science.347.6218.142-c

Google's search engine makes remembering facts less important than it used to be; Internet access in many countries is 24/7, so finding facts like the speed of sound (340 m/s) is quick and easy. To better understand how people remember new information they encounter digitally, Strom and Stone had subjects use computers to study two PDF files containing lists of words. They found that the metaphorical savings of space, gained by saving the first PDF file to the computer, translated into more memory available for encoding a second list of words. Subjects who saved the first file improved the number of words recalled from the second list.

Psychol. Sci. 10.1177/0956797614559285 (2014).

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