Picture This

Does Mona Lisa’s smile jog your memory?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Snapchat! Instagram! Good ol’ Kodachrome! We count on them to help us relive the good times. But could just the ACT of taking a photo help us remember the moment? Alixandra Barasch (bah-RAHSH) at New York University and colleagues wondered.

To test their idea, volunteers took a museum tour on a computer. Some were allowed to take photos with their cameras, and others weren’t. In other experiments, cameras were off limits. But the visitors could instead take mental pictures — IMAGINING the act of taking a photograph. So, how well did they remember the tour?

Those who took pictures–mentally OR physically– remembered more VISUALLY. Without needing to SEE their physical photos! Barasch thinks that when we take a picture, we shift our attention to our eyes. We focus on the exhibit itself rather than audio tours or guidebooks. This act allows you to have a better visual memory.

So bring your new Instax along, or even your smart phone camera will do!

In a flash, you remember, the Louvre! Maybe not the gift shop.