Technology-Mediated Memory Impairment

Sarah Clinch, Cathleen Cortis Mack, Geoff Ward, Madeleine Steeds

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The technology and tools that we develop have always been transformative, but the pace of change, particularly in the last few decades is undoubtedly altering humans in ways we don’t understand. As researchers look to develop novel prosthetics and tools to enhance our memories and extend cognition, further consideration is needed to understand how technologies can help (or, indeed, hinder) our inherent abilities. In this chapter, we identify two distinct forms of cognitive risk associated with current and emerging technologies: memory inhibition and memory distortion. We describe how lifelogging, search engines, social media, satnavs and other developments are prompting us to retain less information for ourselves (inhibition), and present three specific examples of this phenomenon: the Google effect, photo-taking-impairment and alterations in spatial memory attributed to satnav use. We further consider cases in which technology actually increases the likelihood of errors in what and how we remember (distortion), including doctored evidence effects, creation of false memories for current or historical affairs (“fake news”) and retrieval-induced forgetting. Finally, we provide an exploration of these cognitive vulnerabilities in the context of human memory augmentation, including the reporting of a mixed design experiment with 48 participants in which we demonstrate both retrieval-induced forgetting and false memory creation for real-world experiences.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTechnology-Augmented Perception and Cognition
EditorsTilman Dingler, Evangelos Niforatos
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages54
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-30457-7
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-30456-0
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 2021

Publication series

Name Human–Computer Interaction Series
PublisherSpringer Nature
ISSN (Print)1571-5035
ISSN (Electronic)2524-4477


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