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Opening Arguments

Photographic memories

This seems fairly common-sensical:

Taking a photo may seem like the most obvious way to remember a special occasion, but it could in fact be causing significant damage to your memory.

Researchers from Connecticut asked a group of students to recall what items in a museum looked like.

Those who had taken photos of the artefacts struggled to describe the objects, while those who hadn’t, remembered them more clearly.

Dr Linda Henkel, from Fairfield University, who ran the study, calls this phenomenon ‘photo-taking impairment effect’.

I noticed the "photo-taking impairment effect" (good name!) years ago. It seemed like a good idea to take lots of photos on vaction, especially if it was in a beautiful or exotic location. Preserve those memories! But the more pictures I took, the less I enjoyed the actual trip experience, so I cut way back and had a much better time. What's the point of taking a trip if the only way to enjoy it is to look at photos of things you don' t even remember?

I expect the number of cases of this particular affliction is growing with the advent of photo-sharing sites on the Internet. Now, we don't have to sit in somebody's living room and be bored with the passing around of their photo albums or, worse, suffer through a god-awful slide show. Now we can fire up the computer and be bored by them in our very own living rooms. Progress!