Photography As A Memory Tool?

September 22, 2009 at 2:07 pm 2 comments

Scrapbook of Memories - Image by the ever awesome Lusi on Stock.XchngPhotography is a popular hobby, and if you challenge yourself to learn it as an art and science, it can provide excellent exercise for your brain.  But there may be ways to use photography even more effectively to help keep the mind and memory sharp.

Some years ago, Microsoft experimented with a photography prototype called  the Sensecam – an automated camera about the size of a deck of cards, which automatically snaps photos every few minutes, (or whenever significant changes in light, temperature, or movement are detected)

Worn around the neck, the Sensecam captures the wearer’s experience in a series of images that can be played back like a movie, condensing the day into 2-3 minute visual stream. The idea is to help people with memory loss – providing them not only with a record to refer back to, but a means of strengthening their memories through recall.

See, each time you recall something, your memory of it becomes stronger.  Every time you remember what you had for breakfast, or who came to visit you yesterday afternoon, you’re strengthening the neural pathway to that memory, making it easier to reach that information the next time you think about it, and improving the network that supports the memory.

So by capturing the day in a series of images, and reviewing it that evening (and maybe again the next morning), people with memory loss might actually be able to strengthen their memories of those experiences. Additionally, as with most brain-exercises, it’s likely that exercising memory building in this way might improve memory skills in general.

The results of the Sensecam experiments are a bit tough to uncover on the web, but there was at least one promising clinical trial done with a woman who suffered from amnesia, and I turned up other vague references to Sensecam helping to improve long term recall, as well as short term. Unfortunately, Sensecam seems to have been shelved, though other companies are reportedly working on similar devices both as memory aids, and for use by recreational lifebloggers and diarists.

Meanwhile, it would be fun to experiment with a do-it-yourself version, snapping your own life-stream of photos throughout the day as a mindfulness and memory aid, then reviewing it as a brain exercise.  It’s an experiment that appeals to me, personally;  although I have no severe memory problems, I’d like to increase my awareness of the world around me, and train my brain to be a bit more aware and alert, and break out of the sometimes isolated mental fog that working from a home office and studio can create.

So later this week, look for instructions on a do-it-yourself low-budget Sensecam-like experiment, and if I’m feeling especially motivated, maybe even a photo or two out of my personal lifestream.

Sound interesting?
Let me know!

Don’t miss out on  Dakim’s “Give Thanks for Loved Ones” Contest, running now through November 5th.  You could win a $2500 brain fitness system for a senior friend or family member!

Entry filed under: Be Mentally Active, memory. Tags: , , , , , .

"Give Thanks For Loved Ones" and Win a $2500 Brain Fitness System from Dakim Take Your Camera For A Memory Jog!

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jude  |  September 25, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    What a simple and effective tool – that could be used for all sorts of occasions and as a spur for discussion. Several people could take part and record the same day/event from their own point of view. I’d love to do it as part of a family history project.

    • 2. Tori Deaux  |  September 29, 2009 at 1:41 pm

      Oh, I love the idea of doing it as part of a group, and collecting different perspectives!


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A healthy mind and brain is key to a healthy, active life. Come along for the ride as we explore the basics of brain health, with topics including:
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