It may seem counter-intuitive, especially in today’s “take and share pictures of everything” society, but research published in the journal Psychological Science points out that if you really want to commit something to memory, you’re better off looking and focusing on it – not taking a picture for later review.
Essentially, the bottom line is that we commit things to memory better when we give singular focus to the thing we want to remember.
Taking out our phone or camera and trying to take a picture fractures that focus, and makes it more difficult for our brains to cement the memory. Dr Linda Henkel of Fairfield University set up an experiment at an art museum that went something like this:
Undergraduates were led on a tour around the museum and were asked to take note of certain objects, either by photographing them or by simply observing them. The next day, their memory for the objects was tested.
The data showed that participants were less accurate in recognising the objects they had photographed compared to those they had only observed. Furthermore, they weren’t able to answer as many questions about the objects’ visual details for those objects they had photographed.
Henkel calls this the “photo-taking impairment effect”:
“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,” she explains.
A second study replicated these findings, but it also presented an interesting twist: Taking a photograph of a specific detail on the object by zooming in on it with the camera seemed to preserve memory for the object, not just for the part that was zoomed in on but also for the part that was out of frame.
Read more here……