With the rise of camera phones it has become almost standard procedure to use these gadgets to capture every part of our lives from family birthdays to gigs.
Yet the moment you pull out your phone and take a picture or record a video of that gig, you could be losing some of your ability to remember it.
It’s called the photo-taking-impairment effect and the idea is that the moment you take your phone out and take a picture your brain actually offloads some of the responsibility of remembering the moment to your phone.
This actually happens with humans too allowing our brains to ‘share’ memories with close friends or family members and in turn reduce the strain on our brains.
In the most recent issue of the Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, Julia Soares and Benjamin Storm from the University of California detailed an experiment they ran on this very phenomenon.
Taking cues from researcher Linda Henkel who also wrote about this phenomenon the two academics wanted to find out if it was simply the act of taking the picture or the fact that we knew there was a permanent record of it which prompted this offloading.
In the experiment they took three groups of people and asked them to take pictures in different ways. The first group took pictures on the self-destructing app Snapchat, the second group took pictures on their phones and then deleted the images and the final group took pictures on their phones but kept the images.
During the tests they found that in all three cases participants remembered less about the event they were photographing. This was something the team definitely weren’t expecting.
“These results are inconsistent with the offloading hypothesis.” States the paper.
“If taking photos causes people to forget because they think of the camera as a prosthetic memory device onto which they can offload memory, then making the camera less reliable (or entirely unreliable in the case of the Snapchat and Delete conditions) should have eliminated or significantly reduced the extent to which memory was impaired.”
In essence what Soares and Storm believe is happening is that actually just the act of using our phones is enough to prevent us remembering an event, even if we know we have a permanent record of it.
What does that mean for us? Well the simple fact is that it doesn’t matter if you’re using Snapchat or taking a picture and saving it, either way the likelihood is that you’re going to remember it less than if you just experienced it firsthand.
H/T: The Next Web