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BBC Radio 4: Snapshots: How photographs influence our memory?

Psychology 29 November 2017

Dr Catherine Loveday, Cognitive Neuropsychologist at the University of Westminster, used her academic expertise to explain how photographs relate to human memory in the first episode of Snapshots, a radio series by BBC Radio 4.

The series will be following four distinguished photographers at work on four very different photo shoots, exploring the processes of photographing and of being photographed.

The first programme featured an extraordinary project by photographer Matthew Finn, who continues to photograph his mother to the day, 30 years after taking her first photo, and also traces the changes in their relationship throughout the process.

Catherine Loveday said: “With photos we are trying to help people connect with their autobiographical memory. It helps to give people a sense of their identity and it helps to reaffirm identity. It gives them a sense of context and narrative of where they are in their life. But it’s also really important in terms of social connections, it enables people to have conversations. So many of our conversations rely on our memory and photographs give a good cue, a good way to start those conversations when people’s memories are not strong enough for them to do that for themselves.

“Every single time we remember, it is a reconstruction – we are not actually reliving a moment, we are reconstructing a moment. That reconstruction will be framed by what we have experienced since and our current feelings, and where we are now. So every remembering experience is a kind of new experience and will be influenced by that photo.”

Listen to Dr Catherine Loveday speaking on BBC Radio 4 from 05:02.

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