Learning Photography Boosts Memory in Seniors, Study Finds


Good news, camera weenies — not only does photography make you attractive and rich, it helps your brain stay sharp as you age. That’s the conclusion of a new University of Texas study that evaluated a number of different types of activities to see how they affected cognitive skills — particularly memory — in the elderly.

The idea was that, instead of having to talk seniors into deliberate brain-training exercises, maybe ordinary activities could help if they required enough mental work. Subjects committed to doing at least 15 hours per week of various types of activities.

Test subjects who committed to less intellectually challenging tasks, such as social clubs and going to museums, got little brain benefit.


But those who committed to photography — which included learning how to use a new camera and new software — showed marked improvements in memory and cognitive ability after three months. Quilting worked well, too.

“It seems it is not enough just to get out and do something — it is important to get out and do something unfamiliar and mentally challenging,” lead researcher Dr. Denise Park said in a statement. Fortunately, photography fits those criteria very well for most seniors.

The study did not address how trying to teach a senior to use a new camera and/or Photoshop Elements affects the teacher, but in our experience it might increase the risk of excessive alcohol consumption.

(via University Herald)

Image credit: Senior Photographer by Ktoine and Photographer and Patriotic Veteran Burl McDonald by mikebaird

  • ramanauskas

    Really, actively learning _anything_ should help boost memory.

  • harvey creswell

    What about the “attractive and rich” part? I’m a photographer, 62, ugly and poor.

  • Syuaip

    Does mastering a more complex camera helps better than a simple one?

    1DX is better than SX30 then… :)

  • CowFarts

    No, but measurebating a complex camera like the 1DX versus masterbating the SX30 will shrink your brain pan.

  • Ralph Hightower

    That’s great news to hear! I will occasionally put my camera on manual, but I mostly shoot shutter priority or aperture priority depending what I want or the situation. I have the focus the camera myself. Now, I need to get new prescription eyeglasses.

  • Gary O’Brien

    My experiences in teaching seniors to use their digital cameras and organize their images with PShop Elements have been rewarding and enjoyable.
    The education in basic mathematics and science my students received in the 1930-50s prepared them very well for understanding the basics of exposure, lighting and the meaning of a histogram. Comparing photo metadata to the Dewey Decimal System has been a useful approach to teaching the use of PSE.
    I’m sorry the author closed this otherwise excellent article with such an ageist statement.

  • gochugogi

    I find small cameras more challenging and complex to learn: more menu diving, tiny buttons, funky AF, hard to hold steady and lots of PP work needed later.

  • gochugogi

    Here’s my “ageist” statement: my older students are usually among the best in the class: better reading skills, used to working independently and they really want to learn.