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A role for metamemory in cognitive offloading

Hu, X; Luo, L; Fleming, SM; (2019) A role for metamemory in cognitive offloading. Cognition , 193 , Article 104012. 10.1016/j.cognition.2019.104012. Green open access

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Abstract

Cognitive offloading refers to our reliance on the external environment in order to reduce cognitive demand. For instance, people write notes on paper or smartphones in order not to forget shopping lists or upcoming appointments. A plausible hypothesis is that such offloading relies on metamemory - our confidence in our future memory performance. However, this hypothesis has not been directly tested, and it remains unclear when and how people use external sources to aid their encoding and retrieval of information. In four experiments, here we asked participants to learn word pairs and decide whether to offload some of the pairs by "saving" them on a computer. In the memory test, they had the opportunity to use this saved information on half of trials. Participants adaptively saved the most difficult items and used this offloaded information to boost their memory performance. Crucially, participants' confidence judgments about their memory predicted their decisions to use the saved information, indicating that cognitive offloading is associated with metacognitive evaluation about memory performance. These findings were accommodated by a Bayesian computational model in which beliefs about the performance boost gained from using offloaded information are negatively coupled to an evaluation of memory ability. Together our findings highlight a close link between metamemory and cognitive offloading.

Type: Article
Title: A role for metamemory in cognitive offloading
Location: Netherlands
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.cognition.2019.104012
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2019.104012
Language: English
Additional information: © 2019 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Keywords: Cognitive offloading, Confidence, External memory, Memory, Metacognition, Metamemory
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Imaging Neuroscience
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10077673
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