Study: Facebook status updates more memorable than human faces

Josh Peterson Tech Editor
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A new study suggests that Facebook statuses are not only the most memorable of current possible social media updates, but that they are more memorable than even the human face.

The study — conducted by a research team from the University of California, San Diego and University of Warwick — analyzed three separate effects Facebook had on cognition.

The first experiment in the study found that “participants’ memory for Facebook posts was found to be strikingly stronger than their memory for human faces or sentences from books – a magnitude comparable to the difference in memory strength between amnesics and healthy controls.”

“To clarify, Dr. Mickes isn’t talking about the TV amnesiac who wakes up from a bump on the head and can’t remember his wife; she means the guy who can’t generate any new memories, not even the conversation he had five minutes ago”, FastCompany reported Monday, analyzing a statement from one of the study’s researchers, Dr. Laura Mickes. 

The second study found that the posts were not memorable because they were made in a social context.

The final experiment, however, “suggested that the remarkable memory for microblogs is also not due to their completeness or simply their topic, but may be a more general phenomenon of their being the largely spontaneous and natural emanations of the human mind,” said the researchers in the study’s abstract.

A separate study also found that the social interaction Facebook facilitates might help maintain and improve cognitive abilities for elderly users. 

Janet Wohltmann, a psychology graduate student at the University of Arizona, studied over eight weeks how Facebook use affected a group of seniors. While the study is still ongoing, she has already found that participants in her study showed a 25 percent improvement in their working memory.

“Specifically, when confronted with a continuous stream of information, like random words or letters, they were better able to focus on what the researchers told them was relevant,” The Atlantic reported Monday.

“Being able to monitor such information and quickly add or delete the contents of their working memory, is known as ‘mental updating ability,'” wrote the publication.

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