Paper Notebooks vs. Mobile Devices: Brain Activation Differences During Memory Retrieval

beSpacific 2021-04-20

Paper Notebooks vs. Mobile Devices: Brain Activation Differences During Memory Retrieval Keita Umejima1, Takuya Ibaraki, Takahiro Yamazaki2 and Kuniyoshi L. Sakai, Department of Basic Science, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan. 2NTT Data Institute of Management Consulting, Inc., Tokyo, Japan.

“It remains to be determined how different inputs for memory-encoding, such as the use of paper notebooks or mobile devices, affect retrieval processes. We compared three groups of participants who read dialogues on personal schedules and wrote down the scheduled appointments on a calendar using a paper notebook (Note), an electronic tablet (Tablet), or a smartphone (Phone). After the retention period for an hour including an interference task, we tested recognition memory of those appointments with visually presented questions in a retrieval task, while scanned with functional magnetic resonance imaging. We obtained three major results. First, the duration of writing down schedules was significantly shorter for the Note group than the Tablet and Phone groups, and accuracy was much higher for the Note group in easier (i.e., more straightforward) questions. Because the input methods were equated as much as possible between the Note and Tablet groups, these results indicate that the cognitive processes for the Note group were deeper and more solid. Second, brain activations for all participants during the retrieval phase were localized in the bilateral hippocampus, precuneus, visual cortices, and language-related frontal regions, confirming the involvement of verbalized memory retrieval processes for appointments. Third, activations in these regions were significantly higher for the Note group than those for the Tablet and Phone groups. These enhanced activations for the Note group could not be explained by general cognitive loads or task difficulty, because overall task performances were similar among the groups. The significant superiority in both accuracy and activations for the Note group suggested that the use of a paper notebook promoted the acquisition of rich encoding information and/or spatial information of real papers and that this information could be utilized as effective retrieval clues, leading to higher activations in these specific regions.”