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Will a Shortening Attention Span Affect Our Memory?

March 14th, 2008 · No Comments · Culture, Psychology, Technology

How many things are you bombarded with on a daily basis? I marvel when I spend time with our preaching minister who tells stories from his childhood from several decades ago. He remembers the names, situations, nicknames, locations, and just about any other detail you can remember. Besides the fact that he has an amazing memory, it makes me wonder if as we are bombarded with more and more messages our attention spans will shorten and our memories will get worse. There was a study done recently that showed older people do in fact have a better memory than younger people. Could it be because the younger generation is constantly bombarded with zillions of images and bits of information, names, websites, etc that it makes it hard to really remember very much of what they are experiencing?

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  • mattdabbs

    What I am getting at is that we are in constant information overload mode that may have a negative impact on our long-term memory. From my experience the older generations have a much better memory of their childhood and the past than the younger generations. That is pretty amazing considering the older people don’t have trouble remembering things that happened 50 years ago and often the younger people struggle to remember something that happen 5-10 years ago or even a few months ago. What has changed? The amount of information that we try to digest is about the only thing I can think of that could account for it.

  • Philip

    Hmmm… did you ever study the brain and/or memory back in your Harding/UF psych days?

    BTW, saw this on the news tonight:

  • mattdabbs

    That was a great video. Very exceptional. I studied brain function at Harding and UF and memory/cognitive functioning more in depth at UF. There are so many different things when it comes to memory that it is hard to sum it up very well here. There is short term vs. long term, implicit vs. explicit, motor learning vs. conceptual, etc. Basically memory studies have come down to two areas – studying how memory functions based on studying an impaired brain (in other words, when certain parts of the brain get damaged through diseases or trauma, how is memory impaired) or through studying a non-impaired brain (mostly through MRI and fMRI studies – which areas of the brain are used when recalling old information or learning new information). Anyway, there is way too much info out there to do it any justice.

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