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People easily distracted by their phones perform worse on memory tests

By | Layal Liverpool |

Media multitasking, such as scrolling through social media while watching a movie, may be linked to more lapses in attention and difficulty remembering things.

“Our data support the idea that we should be aware of how we engage with media,” says Kevin Paul Madore at Stanford University in California. He and his team compared people’s self-reported levels of media multitasking with their performances in a memory task, as part of a study including 80 participants aged 18 to 26.

The researchers specifically tested episodic memory, which helps us recall events, by presenting the participants with images of objects on a computer and then later asking them to recall whether they had seen the objects earlier or not. At the same time, the team used EEG and eye tracking to monitor people’s attentiveness.

Madore and his colleagues also asked participants to complete a questionnaire to determine how often they engage in various forms of media multitasking, such as texting while watching TV or reading while listening to music. They found that people who reported more frequent media multitasking had more lapses in attention during the memory task, which was associated with increased difficulties with remembering.

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