Does Taking Photos Help Your Memory?

How often do you whip out your smartphone and quickly take a snap of your friends, a funny situation, an interesting object, or something else? Well, in two tightly controlled studies at Fairfield University in Connecticut, researchers investigated whether photographing objects impacts what people remember about them. Does taking photos help your memory? It seems not, according to this research review on MedicalDaily.com.

Does Taking Photos Help Your Memory?

Does taking photos improve your memory? Apparently, it prevents you from paying full attention to the situation or object.

Does taking photos improve your memory? Apparently, it prevents you from paying full attention to the situation or object.

 “People so often whip out their cameras almost mindlessly to capture a moment, to the point that they are missing what is happening right in front of them,” lead author Linda Henkel said in a press release. “When people rely on technology to remember for them — counting on the camera to record the event and thus not needing to attend to it fully themselves — it can have a negative impact on how well they remember their experiences.”

To investigate, researchers enrolled a number of college students in an experiment at the university’s Bellarmine Museum of Art. Participants were asked to take special note of a particular set of objects using either photography or sheer observation. The following day, each participants were asked to describe the objects.

Henkel found that the average participant provided significantly less accurate images of the objects they had photographed compared to those they had observed. “Results showed a photo-taking-impairment effect,” she explained. “If participants took a photo of each object as a whole, they remembered fewer objects and remembered fewer details about the objects and the objects’ locations in the museum than if they instead only observed the objects and did not photograph them.”

You can read the entire article here.

Does taking photos help your memory? It appears that focusing through the lens of a camera distracts you from paying full attention to the object or situation — and you end up missing details. Your brain is trying to do two things at the same time. It seems that the more complicated task of the two suffers — the brain’s ability to observe and remember details of the situation.

Next time you want to capture a situation or an object on camera, you might try spending that bit of time observing only.

Have you ever had a similar experience where you couldn’t really remember much about a situation because you were taking photos?  Share your experiences with us in the comment section.

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