A growing reliance on digital technology is preventing many people from forming or trying to access memories, according to a new study.
Research by Kaspersky Lab has found that one in three adults in Europe will turn to Google before trying to remember a piece of information.
Figures also showed that nearly one in four will forget what they have found as soon as they have used it.
Dr Maria Wimber, of the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology, pointed out the human brain strengthens memories every time it is recalled and forgets the irrelevant memories that distract people.
As a result, the instinct to turn to the internet for answers could fundamentally affect people's ability to learn and store knowledge themselves.
"Past research has repeatedly demonstrated that actively recalling information is a very efficient way to create a permanent memory," Dr Wimber said.
"In contrast, passively repeating information (e.g. by repeatedly looking it up on the internet) does not create a solid, lasting memory trace in the same way."
The survey by Kaspersky believes the problem lies partly in the fact that people expect to get the information they want in a matter of milliseconds.
Indeed, the study indicated that people are often unwilling to spend time trying to access something from their memory, while many also question the accuracy of what they have recalled.
Some 57 per cent of those polled said their first instinct would be to try to come up with the answer to a question themselves.
However, 36 per cent said they would go straight online in order to get the information required.
Posted by Harriet McGowan