Taking photos continuously can disrupt memory

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A sunset, a monument, a moment with friends. During a precious moment, many of us immediately take out our smartphones to capture that moment. To the detriment of our memory?

In any case, this is the warning formulated by some researchers. They believe that taking photos all the time can alter the memory of events by forcing us to focus on the act of taking the photos rather than the moment itself. Experts have found that those who take photos of works of art memorize the details less.

For this study, American scientists tested the memory of 525 participants who took photographs of works of art (paintings, sketches, photographs). Outcome? They found that the memory of details was better when no photos were taken during the visit. In light of these findings, the researchers encourage people to live in the present moment away from their camera to memorize details as much as possible.

Does taking a photo of an object improve or impair memory?

Currently, the literature is mixed, with some studies showing deficiencies and other studies showing improvements, the researchers note. So far, this study has only been done on works of art.

"It is possible that the simple accomplishment of two tasks at the same time (visualization and photography) lead to an alteration of the memory of the photographed objects"

Over the course of five experiments, the team found that photographed art was less remembered than newly viewed art, after a short (20 minutes) and long (48 hours) lag between viewing and retrieval. "Participants can rely on the camera to recall photographed information for them, resulting in impaired memory of photographed information," said lead author Rebecca Lurie of Binghamton University. These findings were published in the Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition.

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