Here's a trend that has been years in the making. Since the advent of speed dial on land lines, people have been training themselves that memory is unimportant, placing every phone number you could need at the touch of a button. Now science has proven it: Phones, computers, and PDAs are making us dumb.
The stats: A quarter of UK residents (these studies always come out of Britain) don't know their home phone number. Only one-third know the birthdays of their immediate family. Half use one password, exclusively, presumably because they just can't remember any more.
The problem is pretty simple at heart: The less you use your memory, the study says, the worse it gets. The study indicates, shockingly, that people in their 50s and 60s have generally better memory than people in their 30s. Why? The older group was tasked with committing more to memory when they were younger, "training" their brains appropriately. Our gadgets make it simple to offload our memory to electronic devices. That's a good thing when it comes to keeping track of the 1000 people in your address book (each with multiple phone numbers and email addresses), but maybe we're taking it too far?
The good news is that you can exercise your brain without memorizing numbers by rote. Games like Brain Age and Sudoku and other mental stimulation can do just as good a job at keeping your memory sharp (and possibly even ward off ailments like Alzheimer's), the experts say.