Want to remember something? Don't take a photo | Compact Flash Cards | BestCfCards.com | Discount Sandisk

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Nowadays we snap photos of every detail of our lives — the food we eat, what our cat is doing, the quirky things we see, the places we go — and we do this in an effort document and remember those experiences.

But a new study, published in Psychological Science, suggests it's possible that the act of taking pictures may actually lessen our ability to recall the details of a subject.  

Researcher Linda Henkel of Fairfield University in Connecticut took university students on a guided museum tour and asked them to observe some objects and photograph others. The results of the study are interesting:

'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.'

Other findings from the study also revealed an exception: 

'However, when participants zoomed in to photograph a specific part of the object, their subsequent recognition and detail memory was not impaired, and, in fact, memory for features that were not zoomed in on was just as strong as memory for features that were zoomed in on.'

Henkel told the New York Daily News: '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.'

So a picture may be worth a thousand words, but if you can't remember what happened, it may not be worth anything at all. 

What's your experience in recalling details of events or places from photographs you've taken? 

What The Duck #1196
What The Duck #1196
Enter the 2014 World Press Photo contest
Enter the 2014 World Press Photo contest
TIME's top photos of the year
TIME's top photos of the year
What The Duck #1146
What The Duck #1146

Written by The Editors — December 14, 2013

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