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Point-and-Shoot Memories: The Influence of Taking Photos on Memory for a Museum Tour


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Two studies examined whether photographing objects impacts what is remembered about them. Participants were led on a guided tour of an art museum and were directed to observe some objects and to photograph others. Results showed a photo-taking-impairment effect: 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. 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. This finding highlights key differences between people's memory and the camera's "memory" and suggests that the additional attentional and cognitive processes engaged by this focused activity can eliminate the photo-taking-impairment effect.
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Psychological Science
2014, Vol. 25(2) 396 –402
© The Author(s) 2013
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DOI: 10.1177/0956797613504438
Research Article
Taking a photograph is as easy as pointing and shooting,
providing an external memory of one’s experiences. It is
estimated that people took more than 3 billion photos in
2012 and that 300 million photos are uploaded to
Facebook each day (Schwartz, 2013). To what extent
does capturing one’s life events with a camera shape
what one subsequently remembers? Surprisingly little is
known about this. Several studies have examined the
extent to which looking at and reviewing photos influ-
ences memory and have found that photos act as valu-
able retrieval cues that help people reactivate and
remember their experiences (Deocampo & Hudson,
2003; Hudson & Fivush, 1991; Koutstaal, Schacter,
Johnson, Angell, & Gross, 1998; Koutstaal, Schacter,
Johnson, & Galluccio, 1999; Schacter, Koutstaal, Johnson,
Gross, & Angell, 1997; St. Jacques & Schacter, 2013).
Some researchers have employed passive camera sys-
tems that people wear and that take photos during the
course of the day, and have found that many months
later, people are quite good at discriminating photos of
their own experiences from photos of unrelated events
that other people experienced (Milton et al., 2011).
Studies using these passive camera “life-logging” systems
have focused on the effects of reviewing the day’s photos
on people’s memory retention, and it has been found that
such photo review benefits memory and cognitive per-
formance in patients with amnesia and other severe
memory impairments (Berry et al., 2007; Loveday &
Conway, 2011) as well as people without any neurologi-
cal difficulties (Hodges, Berry, & Wood, 2011).
In studies in which people actively and deliberately
took photographs of themselves and their life experi-
ences (e.g., activities during their summer vacation;
places they visited), the focus has primarily been on
understanding the organization and structure of events
and time periods in autobiographical memories (Burt,
Kemp, & Conway, 2003, 2008; Kemp, Burt, & Malinen,
2009; St. Jacques, Rubin, LaBar, & Cabeza, 2008). Thus,
research to date has not yet addressed the impact of the
504438PSSXXX10.1177/0956797613504438HenkelPhotos and Memory
Corresponding Author:
Linda A. Henkel, Department of Psychology, Fairfield University, N.
Benson Rd., Fairfield, CT 06824
Point-and-Shoot Memories: The Influence
of Taking Photos on Memory for
a Museum Tour
Linda A. Henkel
Fairfield University
Two studies examined whether photographing objects impacts what is remembered about them. Participants were
led on a guided tour of an art museum and were directed to observe some objects and to photograph others. Results
showed a photo-taking-impairment effect: 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. 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. This finding
highlights key differences between people’s memory and the camera’s “memory” and suggests that the additional
attentional and cognitive processes engaged by this focused activity can eliminate the photo-taking-impairment effect.
photographs, memory, autobiographical memory, long-term memory, digital cameras
Received 4/17/13; Revision accepted 8/16/13
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Photos and Memory 397
act of taking a photo on one’s subsequent memory. In the
present study, participants were led on a guided tour of
an art museum, the Bellarmine Museum of Art, during
which they were asked to view particular objects of art
and were directed to photograph some of the objects. In
Experiment 1, participants’ memory for objects they pho-
tographed was compared with their memory for objects
they viewed but did not photograph, and in Experiment
2, participants’ memory for objects they photographed
as a whole, photographed by zooming in on one part
of the object, or viewed but did not photograph was
People report that they take photographs and record
videos as a way to remember events in their lives (Chalfen,
1998; Harrison, 2002). On the one hand, photographing
objects could have positive effects on memory because it
may focus one’s attention and, hence, increase the mem-
orability of the scene. In addition, photographing an
object is a more active process than observing it, and
research on the enactment effect has shown that people
better remember actions they have performed than
actions they have only thought about or observed
(Roediger & Zaromb, 2010). On the other hand, taking
photos may have a detrimental impact on memory.
Photographing a scene may divide one’s attention, simi-
lar to when people multitask by using cell phones while
driving or walking (Hyman, Boss, Wise, McKenzie, &
Caggiano, 2010) or laptop computers while learning
material (Fried, 2008; Hembrooke & Gay, 2003; Smith,
Isaak, Senette, & Abadie, 2011). People may also pay less
attention to a scene if they take photos, counting on the
external device of the camera to “remember” for them, as
suggested by research showing that people were less
likely to remember information if they expected to have
future access to it (e.g., on an external storage device,
such as a computer, or via the Internet; Sparrow, Liu, &
Wegner, 2011). In this regard, taking a photo could serve
as a cue to “dismiss and forget,” as in directed-forgetting
studies in which people’s memory for items they were
told to forget was typically worse than for items they
were told to remember (Golding & MacLeod, 1998).
Experiment 1
Participants were 28 undergraduates, 1 of whom failed to
return for the second session. Of the remaining 27 par-
ticipants (6 men, 21 women; mean age = 19.41 years,
SD = 1.34, range = 18–23), 33% had never been to the
museum before, and the remainder reported not having
been there in the past month or longer. Individuals par-
ticipated in return for course credit or extra credit.
Participants were told that they would be led on a tour of
a museum and that during the tour they would be asked
to photograph some objects and to observe other objects
without taking a photo; they were asked to pay attention
to the objects and told that they would later be asked
about what the works of art looked like. They were given
time to practice using the digital camera, which had a
screen viewer that allowed them to see the object the
camera was aimed at and the photo that was taken. They
were told to be sure to line up the shot carefully by
angling the camera horizontally or vertically and zoom-
ing in as needed to get the best shot of the whole object.
On the tour, participants visited 30 objects, including
paintings, sculptures, pottery, tools, jewels, and mosaics;
of these 30 objects, 15 were photographed and 15 were
observed. Two sets were used to counterbalance the
objects across the photographed and observed condi-
tions, and participants were randomly assigned to one of
the two sets. Each participant was tested individually and
was given a list of the names of the 30 works of art. The
participant read the name of the first object out loud to
the experimenter, who then took him or her to that
object. The participant was directed to look at the object
for 20 s and then was instructed either to take a photo or
to continue looking at the object for another 10 s. After
the 30 s, the participant read the name of the next object
on the list, and the same procedure was repeated, for all
30 objects. The objects were located in four different
rooms of the museum, and the tour was ordered such
that participants viewed each object once without pass-
ing by it later.
The next day, participants’ memory was assessed by
first asking them to write down the names of all of the
objects they remembered and to indicate which of the
objects they had photographed and which they had
observed. If they could not remember the name of an
object, they were told to write a brief description of it.
After completing the free-recall test, participants were
given a name-recognition test that consisted of the names
of the 30 objects of art from the museum tour randomly
intermixed with 10 names of other objects of art that
were not part of the museum tour but that were objects
participants could plausibly have seen in the museum
setting. In the name-recognition test, the names of the
objects appeared one at a time on a computer screen,
and individuals were instructed to indicate for each
object whether they had taken a photo of it on the tour,
had observed it on the tour, or believed that it was a new
object that was not part of the museum tour.
For objects identified as photographed or observed,
participants were asked about a visual detail of that
object and given four multiple-choice response options.
For instance, for the Tang Dynasty warrior figure—
an object on the tour—the visual-detail question was,
“What did the warrior have in his hands?” and the
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398 Henkel
corresponding response options were “a shield,” “a
spear,” “his helmet,” and “nothing.” Participants then were
asked to rate how confident they were that they had
remembered the detail correctly, using a 4-point scale
(1 = guessing/no confidence; 2 = a little confident; 3 =
confident; 4 = very confident).
Last, participants were given a photo-recognition test
in which the same 40 objects were used but were pre-
sented in a different, random order and a photo of each
object appeared along with its name. Participants’ task
was to indicate whether the object had been photo-
graphed earlier, had been observed earlier, or was new
and, thus, not part of the museum tour.
Results and discussion
An alpha level of .05 was used. Participants’ accuracy in
remembering visual details about the objects they visited
on the museum tour was negatively affected by photo-
graphing the objects. As shown in Table 1, the propor-
tion of questions answered correctly about the objects’
visual details was significantly lower for objects partici-
pants photographed than for objects they observed but
did not photograph, F(1, 26) = 10.95, p = .003, η2 = .42.
Taking a photograph of an object impaired partici-
pants’ accuracy in remembering that the object had been
encountered as well, as shown by the results of a 2 × 2
analysis of variance (ANOVA) that examined the impact
of source (photographed, observed) and specificity of
retrieval cue (name recognition, photo recognition) on
the proportion of objects on the museum tour that were
correctly recognized as having been encountered. As
shown in Figure 1, the main effect for source was signifi-
cant, F(1, 26) = 4.06, p = .05, η2 = .16, as was the main
effect for retrieval cue, F(1, 26) = 17.27, p < .001, η2 = .68,
with no significant interaction, F(1, 26) = 0.33, p = .57.
Recognition accuracy was lower for photographed
objects (.88) than for observed objects (.91) and was
higher when participants saw photos of the objects in the
photo-recognition test (.92) than when they read their
names in the name-recognition test (.87). The order of
the two tests was necessarily fixed because the photo-
recognition test would provide answers to questions
about the objects’ details. The photos presumably pro-
vided additional, more detailed, concrete cues about the
specific objects, and these cues likely contributed to the
memory advantage in the photo-recognition test. However,
although participants did see and read aloud the names of
the objects, because the primary experience of the object
was based on observing it, the photo advantage may also
reflect some degree of encoding specificity.
As noted earlier, research has shown that people bet-
ter remember actions they have performed than actions
they have just thought about or observed (Roediger &
Zaromb, 2010) and, hence, people might be more likely
to remember that they had photographed an object than
to remember that they had observed it, even in the face
of lower detail memory and recognition accuracy for
photographed objects. Results, however, did not show a
source-memory advantage for photographed objects.
The proportion of objects correctly attributed to their
source was examined in a Source (photographed,
observed) × Retrieval Cue (name recognition, photo rec-
ognition) ANOVA. Source accuracy for photographed
objects was in fact lower than for observed objects,
although this difference was driven by a significant inter-
action that qualified the main effects, F(1, 26) = 4.57, p =
.04, η2 = .30. When the names of objects were given as
Table 1.Proportion of Questions Answered Correctly
About Objects’ Visual Details and Locations as a Function of
Photographing or Observing the Objects
Experiment and
ObservedWhole Part
Experiment 1
Visual detail .55 (.03) .64 (.03)
Experiment 2
Visual detail .38 (.02) .46 (.02) .44 (.03)
Location .67 (.03) .45 (.04) .74 (.03)
Note: The table presents proportions for each measure. Standard
errors are shown in parentheses.
Names as Cues Photos as Cues
Proportion of Items Correctly Recognized as Old
Retrieval-Cue Type
Photo: Whole
Fig. 1.Results from Experiment 1: proportion of works of art encoun-
tered on the museum tour that were correctly recognized as old as a
function of source and retrieval-cue type. Error bars represent standard
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Photos and Memory 399
retrieval cues, source accuracy for photographed objects
(.61) and observed objects (.62) did not differ, but when
photos were provided as retrieval cues, source accuracy
was higher for observed objects (.71) than for photo-
graphed objects (.61).
Participants recalled fewer than half of the objects that
they had photographed (M = .47, SE = .04) or observed
(M = .48, SE = .03), with no significant difference between
the two sources, F(1, 26) = 0.09, p = .77; hence, recall
data are not discussed further.
Experiment 2
The findings from Experiment 1 showed no memory
advantage for photographed objects and, in fact, showed
a photo-taking-impairment effect: People remembered
fewer objects overall and remembered fewer details
about the objects they had photographed compared with
objects they had observed. One key difference between
the two conditions in Experiment 1 was that participants
had 30 uninterrupted seconds to view the object in the
observed condition, whereas they had only 20 s to view
the object and then 10 s to line up a shot and take a
photo of it in the photographed condition. Taking a
photo of the object may have diverted participants’ atten-
tion from the object to the camera, thereby reducing
memory for the object, even though the visual focus of
the camera and the resulting photo obviously were about
the object.
In Experiment 2, participants were given 25 uninter-
rupted seconds to view each object, and for objects they
were asked to photograph, they were then given addi-
tional time to do so. In this way, they spent extra time
with the photographed objects; thus, if a photo-taking-
impairment effect were found, it could not be due to
participants’ having less time to view the object. In addi-
tion, a third condition was added in which participants
were asked to take a photo of the object by zooming in
on one specified part of it (e.g., the Tang Dynasty war-
rior’s hands). Pilot testing established that individuals
required an average of 5 to 6 s to angle the camera, zoom
in to take a photo of either the whole object or a speci-
fied part of the object, and glance at the photo in the
camera’s display screen, with no reliable difference in the
amount of time required to take a photo of the whole
object or of a part of the object. This manipulation was
added to address the question of whether focusing on
one specified part draws attention to the object in a way
that photographing the object as a whole does not. It is
possible that the divided attention created by taking a
photo of the whole object is similar to that induced by
multitasking with technology (Smith et al., 2011) and,
therefore, impairs subsequent memory, whereas the
focused attention required to actively and physically
zoom in on a specified feature does not impair subse-
quent memory.
The impact of attentional focus can be further exam-
ined by contrasting people’s memory for the part of the
object on which they did or did not focus. Research on
boundary extension has shown that people’s memory for
a scene often contains nonpresented details that lay just
beyond the actual boundaries of the scene and that this
phenomenon is especially likely to occur when viewing
a close-up scene compared with a wider-angle scene
(Hubbard, Hutchison, & Courtney, 2010; Intraub, Bender,
& Mangels, 1992). Studies on boundary extension have
involved people looking at scenes or photos but not tak-
ing the photos themselves. It remains to be seen whether
the act of zooming in on a part of an object while photo-
graphing it will impair or enhance memory. Along similar
lines, Experiment 2 examined whether individuals’ mem-
ory for a contextual detail unrelated to the object’s
appearance—what room the object had been in—would
be helped or harmed by their focusing attention on pho-
tographing the object.
Participants were 46 undergraduates (10 men, 36 women;
mean age = 19.78 years, SD = 1.28, range = 18–23). The
materials and procedure were similar to those used in
Experiment 1 with the following exceptions. The works
of art on the museum tour consisted of 27 objects, of
which 9 were photographed as a whole, 9 were photo-
graphed by zooming in on a specified part, and 9 were
observed but not photographed. Objects in these three
conditions were counterbalanced. For objects photo-
graphed by zooming in on a specific part, the particular
feature that was zoomed in on was also counterbalanced
(e.g., the head vs. the feet of a statue; the ground vs. the
sky in a painting), which resulted in six sets. Participants
were tested individually and were randomly assigned to
one of the six sets. After reading the name of the first
object on the list out loud to the experimenter, the par-
ticipant was taken to the object and given 25 s to view
the object. For some of the objects, after the 25 s of view-
ing, the participant was instructed to photograph either
the whole object or a specified part of the object. After
doing so, the participant read the name of the next object
on the list, was brought to the object, and the same pro-
cedure was repeated, for all 27 objects.
The next day, participants were asked to remember
the objects visited on the museum tour. They were first
given the names of various objects of art (the 27 old
objects randomly intermixed with 10 new objects) and
asked to indicate which of the objects were part of the
museum tour and which were new. For those objects
identified as part of the museum tour, participants were
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400 Henkel
asked (a) to indicate whether they had taken a photo of
the object or had observed the object and (b) to answer
two questions about different visual details of the object,
each of which had four response options. For objects
photographed by zooming in on one part of the object,
one question pertained to a feature zoomed in on and
one question pertained to a feature not zoomed in on.
Participants were asked to rate their confidence in the
remembered details and then were given a photo-recog-
nition test. After indicating whether the depicted object
had been photographed, had been observed, or was
new, participants were shown a map of the museum with
four numbered rooms and asked to indicate which room
the object had been located in.
Results and discussion
An alpha level of .05 was used, and all follow-up com-
parisons for significant effects were post hoc Scheffé
tests. As Table 1 shows, the proportion of correctly
answered questions about visual details of objects was
affected by what participants did when they viewed the
object, F(2, 90) = 5.15, p = .008, η2 = .11. Replicating the
photo-taking-impairment effect seen in Experiment 1,
results showed that participants’ memory accuracy for
visual details about the objects was significantly lower for
objects photographed as a whole than for objects that
were only observed. However, the manner in which
objects were photographed mediated this effect: When
objects were photographed by zooming in on one part,
memory for details was not harmed and was, in fact,
comparable to memory for details when objects were
Furthermore, although photographing the objects as a
whole led to a decline in participants’ memory for visual
details about the objects, zooming in on one aspect of an
object served to protect memory not only for the part
that was zoomed in on but also for the part that was not
zoomed in on. For objects that were photographed by
zooming in on one feature, no significant difference in
the proportion of details remembered correctly was
found between the details that were zoomed in on (M =
.48, SE = .03) and the details that were not zoomed in on
(M = .45, SE = .02), F(1, 45) = 0.97, p = .33. Thus, what
the person remembered was not necessarily what the
camera shot captured—the camera’s “eye” is not the
“mind’s eye.” This suggests that the effect is not a percep-
tual process whereby additional visual attention is paid
to the feature being zoomed in on but, rather, is based on
paying attention to the object in its entirety as one focuses
the camera on one feature of it, and is consistent with the
perceptual-schema account of boundary extension,
which states that observers activate the larger context of
a scene while viewing it (Hubbard et al., 2010).
Interestingly, the “boundaries” in the perceptual
schema appear to have been centered around the object
and did not extend to the broader context of the room
the object was located in. The inclusion of questions
about memory for the location of objects allowed for
another glimpse into how photographing objects can
impair memory, and results showed that participants’
memory for contextual details about objects was also
impaired by photographing them. There was a significant
main effect of source on memory accuracy for the loca-
tion of the object in the museum, F(2, 90) = 32.68, p <
.001, η2 = .73 (see Table 1). Participants were less accu-
rate at remembering the location of objects they had
photographed—either in whole or in part—than the
location of objects they had merely observed. Participants’
location memory was less accurate, in fact, when they
had taken a photo of part of the object than when they
had photographed the object as a whole, which suggests
that the added attention that preserved memory for
details when photographing part of an object came at the
expense of attention to surrounding contextual features,
such as the object’s location.
As in Experiment 1, photographing objects also had a
detrimental effect on individuals’ ability to recognize
which objects had been part of the museum tour. As
shown in Figure 2, an ANOVA examining the impact of
source (photographed whole object, photographed part
of object, observed) and retrieval cue (name recognition,
Names as Cues Photos as Cues
Proportion of Items Correctly Recognized as Old
Retrieval-Cue Type
Photo: Whole
Photo: Part
Fig. 2.Results from Experiment 2: proportion of works of art encoun-
tered on the museum tour that were correctly recognized as old as a
function of source and retrieval-cue type. Error bars represent standard
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Photos and Memory 401
photo recognition) on recognition accuracy yielded a sig-
nificant main effect for source, F(2, 90) = 4.03, p = .02,
η2 = .09. Post hoc Scheffé tests showed that participants
recognized fewer objects that they had photographed as
a whole (.83) than objects that they had observed but
not photographed (.87) or objects that they had photo-
graphed a part of (.86). Participants’ recognition accuracy
did not differ for objects that were observed or photo-
graphed by zooming in on one part. A significant
main effect for retrieval cue was also found, F(1, 45) =
32.06, p < .001, η2 = .71, with significantly higher recogni-
tion accuracy when photos were provided as cues (.89)
than when only the names were provided as cues (.81),
with no significant interaction, F(2, 90) = 0.45, p = .64.
Source accuracy in remembering whether the objects
had been photographed or only observed was far from
perfect but was above chance level, and as in Experiment
1, there was a significant Source × Retrieval Cue interac-
tion, F(2, 90) = 3.01, p = .05, η2 = .07. For objects that were
observed, source accuracy was higher when photos were
provided as cues (.69) than when only the names were
given as cues (.60). However, for objects that were photo-
graphed (either in whole or in part), source accuracy did
not reliably differ when photos rather than names were
provided as retrieval cues—whole photos: photo retrieval
cue = .64, name retrieval cue = .67; partial photos: photo
retrieval cue = .71, name retrieval cue = .68.
General Discussion
The findings from these two experiments show that pho-
tographing objects on a museum tour had a detrimental
effect on memory of the objects. When participants took
photos of whole objects after viewing them, they remem-
bered fewer objects and remembered fewer details about
the objects and the objects’ locations than when they
only observed the objects without photographing them.
Despite the added time or attention required to angle the
camera and adjust the lens so as to capture the best shot
of the object in its entirety, the act of photographing the
object appears to enable people to dismiss the object
from memory, thereby relying on the external devise of
the camera to “remember” for them (see Sparrow et al.,
2011). However, when participants were asked to take a
photo of a specific part of the object, which required
them to zoom in on that part, their subsequent recogni-
tion and detail memory accuracy was not impaired, and,
in fact, their memory for features that were not zoomed
in on was just as high as their memory for features that
were zoomed in on. This finding highlights key differ-
ences between people’s memory and the camera’s “mem-
ory” and suggests that the additional attentional and
cognitive processes engaged by this focused activity can
eliminate the photo-taking-impairment effect.
Given the ubiquity of digital photography in people’s
lives, understanding how memory is affected by the act of
taking photographs is a meaningful avenue of research.
Future research should examine whether similar effects
are seen when people are free to choose what objects to
photograph. After all, people are likely to take photos of
objects that they value, find important, or want to remem-
ber. Their metacognitive beliefs about whether they would
be likely to forget an object without an external record
and their preference for external versus internal storage
should also be examined (see Stöber & Esser, 2001).
In addition, the present study examined only the role
of photographing objects, not what happens when peo-
ple review those photos after taking them. Past work has
shown that reviewing photos can provide valuable
retrieval cues that reactivate and retain memories for the
photographed experiences (e.g., Koutstaal et al., 1998;
Koutstaal et al., 1999), although research has suggested
that the sheer volume and lack of organization of digital
photos for personal memories discourages many people
from accessing and reminiscing about them (Bowen &
Petrelli, 2011). In addition, despite the ease of social shar-
ing of photos today, families spend less time together in
person sharing and reviewing their digital photos than
they did with physical prints and photo albums in the past
(Nunes, Greenberg, & Neustaedter, 2009). Similar to the
finding that reviewing notes taken during class boosts
retention better than merely taking notes (Bui, Myerson,
& Hale, 2013; Knight & McKelvie, 1986), it may be that our
photos can help us remember only if we actually access
and interact with them, rather than just amass them.
Author Contributions
L. A. Henkel is the sole author of this article and is responsible
for its content.
Thanks to Alyssa Accomando, Chelsea Morales, and Andrea
Teofilo for their work on this project, and to Jill Deupi and
Carey Weber of the Bellarmine Museum of Art for their help
and support. Thanks also to Ira Hyman and two anonymous
reviewers for their insightful comments.
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The author declared that she had no conflicts of interest with
respect to her authorship or the publication of this article.
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... Sparrow et al. (2011) had participants enter trivia statements on a computer and showed that they remembered facts less well when they believed the information was saved externally and would be accessible later. Similarly, Henkel (2014) demonstrated poorer memory for objects that were photographed than ones that were observed but not photographed. Additionally, decisions to offload information to external stores may leave us more susceptible to distortions to that information (Risko et al., 2019). ...
... Offloading information to an external source is often strategic and adaptiveoffloading some information allows us to reallocate limited processing and memory capacity to new information (Storm & Stone, 2015). And, even though people may exhibit worse memory for photographed objects than observed but unphotographed objects, Henkel (2014) demonstrated that, when cameras are used to "zoom in" on details of an object, later recognition of those objects was in fact unimpaired. ...
... Secondarily, we expect memory for the information itself to suffer from device use. We expect lower recall accuracy for information originally retrieved from a phone, as seen in offloading studies (e.g., Henkel, 2014;Sparrow et al., 2011;Storm & Stone, 2015). We expect higher recall accuracy for information that was originally attempted to be retrieved from memory, through benefits comparable to generation and retrieval practice (e.g., Benjamin & Pashler, 2015;Roediger & Karpicke, 2006;Slamecka & Graf, 1978). ...
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It is difficult to monitor whether information was originally retrieved internally, from our own memory, or externally, from another person or a device. We report two experiments that examined whether people were more likely to confuse prior access to information on a smartphone with accessing their own knowledge. Participants were experimentally assigned to either attempt to answer questions from memory or with a smartphone. One week later, we tested memory for the answers and source memory for the modality of the original attempt to retrieve the answer. Participants exhibited poorer source memory for answers retrieved from a smartphone than for answers they initially attempted to retrieve from memory. Experiment 2 demonstrated that memory for the information was equivalent across conditions. These results demonstrate that we are prone to confusing information retrieved from internal and external memory stores, and we have a cognitive bias to appropriate external knowledge as our own. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
... The memory effects of taking photos, even without photographic review, have therefore gained interest among both researchers and photo-takers. Henkel (2014) examined the memory effects of photo-taking without review by assigning participants to photograph some objects but not others while they toured a museum and then testing their memory for the objects. Henkel found evidence of a photo-taking-impairment effect such that participants recalled, recognized, and correctly answered fewer questions about the objects they photographed (photo condition) relative to the objects they did not photograph (observe condition). ...
... Indeed, taking multiple photos could focus participants' attention on a photographed object and attenuate the phototaking-impairment effect in a similar way that zooming may have done for Henkel's (2014) participants. Rather than zooming into a feature of an object, participants might engage with different features as they take different photos. ...
... Alternatively, taking multiple photos could lead to equivalent or more memory impairment than taking one photo. A cognitive offloading account argues that the photo-taking-impairment effect occurs because photo-takers come to rely on the external memory of the camera, and struggle to remember photographed information in the absence of that store (e.g., Henkel, 2014;Sparrow et al., 2011). According to this account, taking multiple photos would not protect photographed information from memory impairment because that information is no less externally stored than information that is photographed once. ...
The photo-taking-impairment effect is observed when photographed information is less likely to be remembered than nonphotographed information. Three experiments examined whether this effect persists when multiple photos are taken. Experiment 1 used a within-subjects laboratory-based design in which participants viewed images of paintings and were instructed to photograph them once, five times, or not at all. Participants’ memory was measured using a visual detail test, and the photo-taking-impairment effect was observed when participants took multiple photos. Experiment 2 examined the photo-taking-impairment effect using a between-subjects design. Participants either photographed all of the paintings they saw once, five times, or not at all, before being tested on their memory for the paintings. The photo-taking-impairment effect was observed in both photo-taking conditions relative to the no photo baseline. Experiment 3 replicated this pattern of results even when participants who took multiple photos were instructed to take five unique photos. These findings indicate that the photo-taking-impairment effect is robust, occurring even when multiple photos are taken, and after nonselective photo-taking.
... processo de registro e apreensão do meio tem sido impactado pela tecnologia atual. Para tomarmos um exemplo, vejamos o chamado efeito "photo-taking-impairment"(Soares;Storm, 2018). Este efeito sugere que o ato de tirar fotos das coisas, proliferado pela popularização dos smartphones, pode interferir na nossa capacidade de observar e lembrar delas.Henkel (2013), em um interessante experimento realizado em um passeio guiado por um museu de arte, orientou as pessoas a observar alguns objetos expostos e de outros apenas tirar fotos. O resultado apontou que o grupo se lembrou mais dos objetos apenas observados, frente aos fotografados, inclusive de detalhes e de suas localizações no museu. Contudo ...
Conference Paper
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Studying and teaching Architecture and Design is a versatile endeavour where creativity can channelise into Design and Form. This paper will be outlining the first Exercise of Basic Design which is the antecedent to all other exercises of the Architecture Undergraduate Program in India. As part of Semester 1 Design Studio, various studies were made on a Natural Object, which includes: Analyses, Abstraction and Design. These activities are meant to open the minds of the students and further enhance the learning process. The analyses covers the main components that make up Design: the Principles and Elements of Design. The Abstraction is limited to the way this Object can be disintegrated and re-imagined as Abstract Art or Abstract Design. The Design of it includes the final creativity factor put to work, arriving from the Abstraction to a usable product. An illustrated example has also been documented in the words of a student for visual understanding. The interplay between architectural studies and student psychology is significant and creativity is a critical skill that can be taught, nurtured and increased.
... This is an example of the broader phenomenon of cognitive offloading, which has been defined as the use of physical action to alter the information processing requirements of a task so as to reduce cognitive demand (Risko & Gilbert, 2016). Everyday examples of cognitive offloading include diverse phenomena such as external normalization (tilting one's head in order to perceive a rotated image, reducing the need for mental rotation; Risko et al., 2014); using a GPS device instead of internal memory to guide navigation (Brügger et al., 2019); storing to-beremembered information in written form (Kelly & Risko, 2019;Lu et al., 2020;Risko & Dunn, 2015), on computers (Morrison & Richmond, 2020;Storm & Stone, 2014) or via photography (Barasch et al., 2017;Henkel, 2014;Soares & Storm, 2018); or searching for information on the internet via a search engine, rather than in internal memory (Ferguson et al., 2015;Fisher et al., 2015;Hamilton & Yao, 2018;Marsh & Rajaram, 2019). Here, we focus on the specific phenomenon of intention offloading; for a more general review, see Risko and Gilbert (2016). ...
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How do we remember delayed intentions? Three decades of research into prospective memory have provided insight into the cognitive and neural mechanisms involved in this form of memory. However, we depend on more than just our brains to remember intentions. We also use external props and tools such as calendars and diaries, strategically placed objects, and technologies such as smartphone alerts. This is known as ‘intention offloading’. Despite the progress in our understanding of brain-based prospective memory, we know much less about the role of intention offloading in individuals’ ability to fulfil delayed intentions. Here, we review recent research into intention offloading, with a particular focus on how individuals decide between storing intentions in internal memory versus external reminders. We also review studies investigating how intention offloading changes across the lifespan and how it relates to underlying brain mechanisms. We conclude that intention offloading is highly effective, experimentally tractable, and guided by metacognitive processes. Individuals have systematic biases in their offloading strategies that are stable over time. Evidence also suggests that individual differences and developmental changes in offloading strategies are driven at least in part by metacognitive processes. Therefore, metacognitive interventions could play an important role in promoting individuals’ adaptive use of cognitive tools.
Social media provides an easy and ubiquitous means by which individuals can curate and share their personal experiences while also interacting with their friends, family, and the world at large. One means by which individuals can craft their personal past via social media is through their personal photographs. However, psychologists are only beginning to appreciate the mnemonic consequences associated with sharing personal photographs on social media. The aim of this manuscript is to distil the relevant, psychological research examining the mnemonic consequences associated with photography and sharing personal photographs on social media. To this end, we discuss how a psychological approach to memory has evolved from an individualist perspective to one that is beginning to appreciate the importance of a memory ecology. We then turn to photographs as an important component of one's memory ecology and how the act of photography and sharing photos on social media may have important consequences for how individuals remember their personal past. We then end with a discussion surrounding pertinent avenues for future research. We advocate that, moving forward, psychologists should better appreciate (1) the collective nature of social media, (2) an individual's memory ecology, and (3) the mnemonic consequences associated with social media silence . In addressing these issues, we believe that psychologists and memory researchers, more generally, will gain a fuller understanding of how, and in what way, personal photographs, and the act of sharing them via social media may shape the way individuals remember their personal past.
Studies that locate memory entirely within the head may pay less attention to the properties, practices or cultures of the media with which people remember than studies of ‘memory in the wild’, where memory is seen to extend beyond the individual, into the distributed activities of people and material things. While memory in the head is, apparently, individual and susceptible to universal effects, memory in the wild is emergent and relational. Studies of memory in the wild, therefore, produce results that are harder to pin down but may form a stronger basis for interpreting the importance of context. It is an important, interdisciplinary challenge to reconcile evidence from studies based on these different conceptions, so that we can better understand how people remember and forget, individually and collectively, and the relationship between context, environment, and memory. I argue that wherever memory is located or studied, all remembering can be framed as in the wild, and that doing so supports ecological validity, conceptual precision, reflexivity, and realistic application of conclusions beyond the research context. A key part of my argument is that the relationship between media, technology, and memory is situated, highly complex, and not easily generalisable. Remembering in the wild supports the conceptual precision needed to understand the subtle and entangled implications of technological change in relation to memory.
Previous work demonstrates that individuals often recall less information if, at study, there is expectation that an external memory store will be available at test. One explanation for this effect is that when individuals can expect access to an external memory store, they forgo intentional, controlled efforts at encoding. The present work offers a novel test of this account by examining study effort, indexed by study time and self-reported strategy use, as a function of instructed external store availability. In two preregistered experiments, participants studied lists of to-be-remembered items for a free recall test and were either instructed that they could use their study list to support them at test or that they could not. Critically, participants controlled their own study time, and no participant had their study list at test, regardless of instruction. Consistent with the effort at encoding account, external store availability influenced both study time and strategy use, and there was evidence that these effects mediated the influence of external store availability on recall performance. Interestingly, much of the memory cost remained when controlling for study effort, thus, suggesting that the cost is potentially multiply determined.
The advancement of technology and social networking sites has popularised online photo-sharing, allowing tourists to seamlessly share travel encounters with those who are physically absent. At the same time, focus channelled to cameras and mobile screens limits immersion in the tourist experience and detracts from engagement with various destination elements. As the tourist attention becomes divided into physical and virtual spaces, implications on the on-site experience need to be considered. This has challenged existing definitions of the tourist experience through the selfie and distracted gaze coined in contemporary research. As such, this study aims to revisit existing definitions by exploring the experience sought by present-day tourists, with attention paid to their online photo-sharing endeavours. Given the exploratory nature of this study, a qualitative approach was utilised through 17 in-depth interviews conducted with tourists from eleven countries. The findings revealed new meanings to the notion of the present-day tourist experience. While leisure travel has traditionally been regarded as one’s detachment from the mundane environment, such detachment was found to exist only at a physical level. Subsequently, this study proposed the reconceptualisation of the tourist experience, incorporating values derived from both on-site and online interactions. The theoretical contribution to the body of knowledge is seen in the development of the dual realm tourist experience framework which extends past delineations of the tourist experience. This study also sheds light on the kind of services tourism providers could offer to cater to the needs of present-day tourists.
Predominantly built upon collective practices and complex relations among different actors, the dried fish organizations of the Indian Sundarbans present everyday narratives of lives, experiences and challenges that are shaped by vulnerable social and ecological architecture of the region. This photo essay is a representation of practices, processes and situational complexities inherent in the dried fish camps – or shabars, as they are known in the Bengali dialect – the photos carving out ‘storylines’ focusing on the socially, culturally and historically induced interactions among people, place and entities of the evolving delta.
Museums have always used different media to communicate, widen perspectives and bring new knowledge, but in the era of digital media, their various offerings are increasingly part of the media ecosystem. Our research interventions explored the possibility of reusing existing digitised material in a participatory setting. The aim was to explore the object-centred audience participatory method in digital settings. We held a series of digital and in-person workshops that invited the participants to “imagine” narratives about the provenance of the museum’s objects and journeys to Sweden in a playful and creative exploration. We could observe how the virtual workshop setting supported focused discussions, and allowed zooming, drawing and remixing of digital photographs to facilitate conversation. The workshop participants on-site worked with the museum objects on display to remediate them through photos, drawings, clay modelling, and writing down thoughts and questions about the objects on discussion postcards. The participants’ contributions were included in the virtual collection database (Carlotta), under the same collection as the other museum objects, making the remediation process circular. We argue that object-centred methods enable audience participation in digital media ecosystems both in museums and with other media makers. The audience’s expectations and experiences from using other media bring them to the digital museum platforms with a willingness to explore, remix and integrate.
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Memory can be modified when reactivated, but little is known about how the properties and extent of reactivation can selectively affect subsequent memory. We developed a novel museum paradigm to directly investigate reactivation-induced plasticity for personal memories. Participants reactivated memories triggered by photos taken from a camera they wore during a museum tour and made relatedness judgments on novel photos taken from a different tour of the same museum. Subsequent recognition memory for events at the museum was better for memories that were highly reactivated (i.e., the retrieval cues during reactivation matched the encoding experience) than for memories that were reactivated at a lower level (i.e., the retrieval cues during reactivation mismatched the encoding experience), but reactivation also increased false recognition of photographs depicting stops that were not experienced during the museum tour. Reactivation thus enables memories to be selectively enhanced and distorted via updating, thereby supporting the dynamic and flexible nature of memory.
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Looking at photographs constitutes an important everyday memory activity for older adults. The authors found that reviewing photographs of events seen earlier in a videotape increases the likelihood that both older and younger adults remember specific details from the reviewed event (W. Koutstaal, D. L. Schacter, M. K. Johnson, K. E. Angell, & M. S. Gross, 1997). In the present study, the authors report 2 experiments demonstrating that photo review can also produce false recollection in elderly adults: After reviewing photos of events that had not been shown earlier in a videotape, older but not younger adults were later more likely to "remember" that those events had been shown in the videotape. False recollection induced by photo review appears to reflect an age-related deficit in source-monitoring abilities. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Assessed the importance of note taking (an encoding function) and note reviewing (an external storage function) on memory for a lecture. One week following various conditions of film-viewing, note taking, and review of notes, 144 psychology students (aged 17–19 yrs) completed a quiz based on the contents of a videotaped lecture dealing with an unfamiliar but relevant topic. Ss who reviewed a thorough set of lecturer notes prior to the test performed better than those who had no notes to review, irrespective of whether they had taken personal notes, simply viewed and listened, or had attended the film at all. The latter 3 activities had no significant effect on test scores. Ss who reviewed their own notes performed at an intermediate level, scoring generally lower than those who reviewed lecturer notes but higher than those who did not review. Results are interpreted as support for an external storage rather than an encoding function of note taking. (French abstract) (24 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Substantial evidence suggests that test anxiety is associated with poor memory performance. The relationship between test anxiety and metamemory, however, has remained largely unexplored. The present study examines test anxiety and metamemory from the perspective of storage selection in extended memory systems. A sample of 56 university students with scores in the upper or lower thirds of the distribution for the Test Anxiety Inventory were presented with sentences describing everyday tasks under conditions where low and high importance was attached to future remembering. For each sentence, participants indicated whether they would choose internal memory storage (neurophysiological memory) or external storage (external memory aids) to remember the information. Results showed that test-anxious participants displayed a general preference for external over internal storage, independent of the importance attached to remembering. Low estimated success of internal storage emerged as a potential reason for this preference. Implications of these findings for research on test anxiety, metamemory, and storage selection in extended memory systems are discussed.
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Selectively reviewing some items from a larger set of previously learned items increases memory for the items that are reviewed but may also be accompanied by a cost: Memory for thenonreviewed items may be impaired relative to cases where no review occurs at all. This cost to nonreviewed items has primarily been shown in contexts of verbal list learning and in situations where the reviewed and nonreviewed items are categorically or semantically related. Using a more naturalistic impetus to selective review—photographs relating to previously experienced events—we assessed whether the memory of older and younger adults for unrelated complex activities that they themselves had performed was also impaired due to nonreview. Both younger and older adults showed impaired memory for nonreviewed activities when tested with free recall (Experiment 1), but not when tested with recognition or cued recall (Experiment 2). If mitigating retrieval cues are unavailable, selective review may impair memory for nonreviewed everyday events.
Three experiments examined note-taking strategies and their relation to recall. In Experiment 1, participants were instructed either to take organized lecture notes or to try and transcribe the lecture, and they either took their notes by hand or typed them into a computer. Those instructed to transcribe the lecture using a computer showed the best recall on immediate tests, and the subsequent experiments focused on note-taking using computers. Experiment 2 showed that taking organized notes produced the best recall on delayed tests. In Experiment 3, however, when participants were given the opportunity to study their notes, those who had tried to transcribe the lecture showed better recall on delayed tests than those who had taken organized notes. Correlational analyses of data from all 3 experiments revealed that for those who took organized notes, working memory predicted note-quantity, which predicted recall on both immediate and delayed tests. For those who tried to transcribe the lecture, in contrast, only note-quantity was a consistent predictor of recall. These results suggest that individuals who have poor working memory (an ability traditionally thought to be important for note-taking) can still take effective notes if they use a note-taking strategy (transcribing using a computer) that can help level the playing field for students of diverse cognitive abilities. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved)
We investigated the effects of divided attention during walking. Individuals were classified based on whether they were walking while talking on a cell phone, listening to an MP3 player, walking without any electronics, or walking in a pair. In the first study, we found that cell phone users walked more slowly, changed directions more frequently, and were less likely to acknowledge other people than individuals in the other conditions. In the second study, we found that cell phone users were less likely to notice an unusual activity along their walking route (a unicycling clown). Cell phone usage may cause inattentional blindness even during a simple activity that should require few cognitive resources.
This paper examines the ways in which photographic images can be used in narrative inquiry. After introducing the renewed interest in visual methodology the first section examines the ways in which researchers have utilised the camera or photographic images in research studies that are broadly similar to forms of narrative inquiry such as auto/biography, photographic journals, video diaries and photo-voice. It then draws on the published literature in relation to the author’s own empirical research into everyday photography. Here the extent to which the practices which are part of everyday photography can be seen as forms of story-telling and provide access to both narratives and counter-narratives, are explored. Ideas about memory and identity construction are considered. A critical area of argument centres on the relationship of images to other texts, and asks whether it is possible for photographs to narrate independent of written or oral word. It concludes with some remarks about how photographs can be used in research and as a resource for narrative inquiry. This necessitates a understanding of what it is people do with photographs in everyday life.
In this research we compared kindergarten children's immediate recall of a class field trip to a museum of archaeology on the same day of the trip to their recall 6 weeks later, 1 year later and 6 years later. Not surprisingly, children remembered less about this event over time. However, what children did recall was recalled as accurately and in as much detail 6 years after the trip as immediately after the trip. Most striking were the effects of cueing on memory over time. Without specific cues the event was forgotten by almost all of the children after 1 year, but with cues, 87 per cent of the children could recall details of the event even after 6 years. The set of ‘core’ activities which all children tended to recall on all recall trials were those activities that made this particular event distinctive. However, with increasing time since experiencing the event, children's recall tended to become more reconstructive and inferential. Thus, forgetting in autobiographic memory seems to involve three processes: decreases in amount recalled, changes in accessibility, and changes in memory content.