Take Your Camera For A Memory Jog!

September 24, 2009 at 4:20 pm 2 comments

Camera image by nezabarom on Stock.Xchng

Earlier this week, I wrote about  Microsoft’s Sensecam, an experimental example  of how digital cameras can be used to improve failing memories.   Today, I thought I’d talk about how those of us who don’t have access to Microsoft’s Top Secret Research Labs can experiment with some of the same benefits through a do-it-yourself version.

It’s not as nifty-neato-cool as the Microsoft project, of course, and it’s going to require that you push a button on your camera every so often, but it seems like quite a fun experiment with real potential as a memory exercise!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • One (cheap) Auto-Focus Digital Camera.  You don’t need anything fancy, just something that will take at least 100-200 low resolution shots.  Look for an older used model from Ebay, or a cheap camera designed for children.
  • A (cheap) Timer/Alarm you can set to beep every 10-20 minutes.  Your watch may already have one, but if not,  pick up a digital egg timer from the discount store
  • Extra Batteries – because some of those cheap cameras use a lot of power!
  • A Cord (or two) to hang the camera  and timer/alarm around your neck.
  • Optional: Video Software that turns still photos into a quick video – you probably already have this.  MovieMaker comes with all versions of Windows, and for you AppleFans, Macs come with iMovie.  Either one will work fine.

And here’s how to turn your day into a “Memory Jog”:

  1. Make sure the camera is set for the smallest pictures it can take (the lowest resolution) and if it has a timestamp option, turn it on.
  2. Hang the camera and timer on the cords around your neck, and tuck the batteries into a pocket,
  3. Take one photo right now, where you are.
  4. Set your timer for somewhere between 10-30 minutes.
  5. Go on about your day.
  6. Every time the timer goes off, snap a picture.  Don’t look through the lens, don’t try and frame the shot, don’t try and make it significant or pretty. All you want is a record of (roughly) what you see, right now.
  7. Repeat!
    (depending on the timer you’re using, you may need to restart it)

You may also want to snap a photo whenever anything “different” happens – when you walk outside, talk to someone, if the phone rings, etc.

When your day is done…

…(or  when the camera memory runs out of room) take the camera to the computer, download the photos, and review them.  If you’re feeling ambitious, import the images into MovieMaker or IMovie, and watch your day speed past.

Does your memory of the day match the images?  Does it help you remember small things you might have otherwise forgotten, things like the puppy chewing on the phone, or where you put your keys down?

By reviewing the images and recalling the days events associated with them, you’re exercising the pathways involved not only in those specific memories, but in the *process* of forming new memories.   The exercise will also (hopefully!) help you become more aware of your actions throughout the day, engaging your brain in a more conscious way.

It’s a pretty cool concept, really – even if it isn’t as smooth a process as Microsoft came up with.  Will it really help your memory?  Well, I can’t say for sure – the results from the SenseCam project were only very preliminary, and this isn’t nearly as sophisticated as their method.   I certainly wouldn’t recommend it as a replacement for more serious brain training, physical exercise, or any other part of good brain fitness practices.  But it’s fun, engaging, and potentially a memory boost… so why not give it a whirl?

I’m still planning on it!

If you didn’t catch the earlier post about photography as a memory tool, you can go back and check it out here.

And 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!

(But no Sensecam included, dang nab it)

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

Photography As A Memory Tool? Get Your Zzzz’s: Sleep Deprivation & Alzheimer’s

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Brain Fitness Exercises  |  October 8, 2009 at 5:33 am

    Your tips seems to be effective. They will surely enhance memory power.

    • 2. Tori Deaux  |  October 9, 2009 at 3:34 pm

      Well, thank you, BrainFitnessExercises : )


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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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Authored by Tori Deaux
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