From: The New York Times

A Memory Shortcut, With a Little Help From Friends

“Always remember everything,” my mother is fond of saying.

Of course, as she knows, this is impossible, even with advanced memory techniques. That’s why we take notes and use calendars. These are components of our external memory, which are parts of our extended minds.

That your mind may not be entirely housed within your skull may be difficult to grasp. In their seminal paper, the philosophers Andy Clark and David Chalmers made the case that some functions we perform with other objects should be considered on par with thought that occurs in our brains. Using pen and paper to help perform a calculation is one example. Many people, myself included, manipulate words on a page (or the digital equivalent) to figure out what they think about a topic or to develop an argument.

Another study found that people who took pictures of artwork in a museum were less able to recall the artwork and their locations than those who visited the museum without snapping photos. Those of us old enough to remember life before smartphones used to memorize important phone numbers. Few do so now or even try. We could, but why bother?

Read the whole story: The New York Times

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