Health  

Smartphone nearby reduces memory

New research suggests that simply having your smartphone nearby can reduce brain power. Many of us are in awe of the amazing opportunities for connectivity, information, and entertainment offered by our smartphones.

New research suggests that simply having your smartphone nearby can reduce brain power. Many of us are in awe of the amazing opportunities for connectivity, information, and entertainment offered by our smartphones. But are we aware of the cognitive costs that come with frequent smartphone use?

Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin, United States (US), set out to examine the effect that having one’s smartphone nearby can have on one’s ability to concentrate. The team was led by Adrian Ward, an assistant professor at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin, and the findings were published in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research.

As the authors of the new study explain, previous research had suggested that “the mere presence of personally relevant stimuli” can cause us to perform worse cognitively. Ward and colleagues wanted to test this “brain drain” hypothesis in regard to smartphones. They wanted to see whether merely being in the presence of the device, without even using it, would make consumers less able to complete cognitive tasks.

They also wanted to see whether this potential effect would occur even when smartphone owners were otherwise able to successfully control their attention.
Studying smartphones and brain power

Ward and colleagues examined almost 800 smartphone owners. They asked the users to take part in two experiments designed to assess their ability to complete cognitive tasks while their smartphones were in the vicinity.



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