Researchers found increasing number of users relied on their computers as a form of external memory as frequent use of online information libraries wired human brains. The study, examining the so-called Google effect, found people had poor recall of knowledge if they knew where answers to questions were easily found. The scientists from Columbia University, in New York, found people were increasingly bypassing discussions with friends to use the internet as their main source of information. Experts blamed the findings, published online in this week in the journal Science, on popular search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo and databases such as Wikipedia and IMDb.com, the movie information site founded in Britain. Prof Betsy Sparrow, who led the study, said such web tools were making information easy to forget and that if people could not find answers immediately it could feel like going through withdrawal. We are becoming symbiotic with our computer tools, growing into interconnected systems, said Prof Sparrow, from Columbias psychology department. We have become dependent on them to the same degree we are on all the knowledge we gain from our friends and co-workers and lose if they are out of touch. Human memory is adapting to new communications technology. She added: Were not thoughtless empty-headed people who dont have memories anymore. But we are becoming particularly adept at remembering where to go find things. And thats kind of amazing. Roddy Roediger, a psychologist at Washington University who was also involved in the study, added: Why remember something if I know I can look it up again? In some sense, with Google and other search engines, we can off-load some of our memory demands onto machines. In the study, titled Google Effects on Memory: Consequences of having information at our Fingertips, the researchers undertook four experiments involving student volunteers. They firstly asked 46 students from the Harvard, the Ivy League university, a series of true-false questions based on trivia such as, An ostrichs eye is bigger than its brain before showing them words in different colours. TGk