•  The UK’s love affair with the digital image while on holiday and the growing affiliation to the ‘if it’s not on social it didn’t happen’ mantra, could be inadvertently fueling a memory bank deficit, says leading Oxford University experimental psychologist
    • If you want your holiday memories to last longer stop taking photos or videos – draw a picture instead. That’s the conclusion of a team of experts who revealed the amount of time memories stay fresh in the mind depends on the number of senses that are used when laying them down
    • New research that proves our holiday memories fade after just two weeks has led to TUI Sensatori resorts creating Sketch to Etch kits so guests can sketch their holiday moments while in resort, to retain their holiday memories for longer

    25 April 2018 – Experts have discovered a way to help holiday memories last longer – draw a picture instead. And it’s all linked to how many of our senses we stimulate when we are away.

    Traditionally, holidaymakers tend to take dozens of photographs on their phones, tablets, or cameras to create snapshots of their trips. Yet, scientists now believe experiencing ‘wow’ moments through a digital lens may well lead to them being less memorable.

    Typically only one sense – sight – is stimulated when taking a photo and at most two – sight and hearing – are triggered when filming something.

    Drawing activates up to three senses, including sight, touch, sound as well as proprioception (or position sense), enabling the brain to solidify the memory. Thereby insuring its longer term existence.

    Leading experimental psychologist and renowned Oxford University sensory expert Professor Charles Spence, in collaboration with British artist Philippa Stanton – who possesses the rare neurological condition of synesthesia – visited the TUI Sensatori Resort Negril to explore how sketching can help engage all five senses and help retain those ‘wow’ holiday memories for longer.

    Professor Charles Spence, said: “Much of the pleasure from holidays comes from the remembering. Yet, new research reveals that the average Brit’s holiday memories fade after less than two weeks.

    “Three quarters of holidaymakers are convinced they have shorter attention spans because of smartphones and the internet. Despite this, there’s a growing tendency to want to digitally document life experiences, whether that’s sightseeing or what we’re eating.”

    Taking the time to sketch out a treasured experience from a holiday is a better way to lock away memories that will stay in the mind much longer than simply just pressing a button to take a photograph.

    Charles Spence continued “Scientific evidence is clear in suggesting the more of our senses we stimulate, the more robust the multisensory memory that is formed. Technology keeps our eyes occupied, but while it plays to our dominant visual sense, it fails to connect with our more emotional senses.”

    The project was supported by a study of 2000 adults which discovered that more than half of the population suffers from ‘Digital Holiday Amnesia’– relying on smartphones or other devices to ‘store memories’ for them, leading our own memories to falter.

    Eight in 10 Brits say they wish they could remember holidays from their past better than they can do at the moment. It also revealed that three quarters are better able to remember things by writing them down – which could have the same effect as drawing them.

    The study found that twice as many people will take a picture of a landmark or famous sight on holiday, than simply try and take a mental snapshot to remember it in their mind.

    Charles Spence continued: “When we watch something unfold from behind a lens, we’re not truly living and sensing the experience. Smartphones can prevent us from creating fully-fledged memories as capturing a picture only really engages one of the senses – sight. It’s only by really engaging with our experiences on holiday through all of our senses that we can hope to process all the stimulating information to lay down the sorts of memories that will last, and that will be easier to retrieve.”

    Helen Morgan, Head of Concept for TUI said “We know that our customers spend up to a year planning their holiday yet when it comes to returning home and actually remembering some of their wow holiday moments the expiry date on those memories can be as soon as two weeks. We are introducing Sketch to Etch kits to our TUI Sensatori resorts this summer because we want our customers to fuel and engage with all of their senses when they are on holiday with us and retain their wow holiday memories for longer”.

    Sketch to Etch kits will be trialed in the new TUI Sensatori Resort Atlantica Rhodes opening this summer.


    Professor Spence’s & Philippa Stanton’s tips on how to lock in special holiday memories for longer:

    1. Give your senses a work out

    75% of Brits do not give much thought as to how our senses are working, yet our senses play a fundamental role in remembering things.

    When we remember a great time on holiday, our brains reactivate some of the moods, emotions, and feelings that we experienced at the time. Never forget that your brain is your body’s most blood-thirsty organ. You need to exercise it and train it like any other muscle in your body.

    Because we use it so little, it is the sense of smell that really shows the biggest improvements from a little bit of practice/training. Why not try to identify the herbs and spice in the cupboard with your eyes closed.

    Given that we are visually-dominant creatures, why not close your eyes and focus on all of the other sensations. Every smell and sound.

    Ultimately, it is about practice and being attentive/mindful of the multitude of rich sensory experiences that impinge on our senses.

    1. Sketch to help etch holiday memories for longer
    2. The more we process and think about what we are experiencing, the stronger the memories we lay down. Sketching has the advantage that it really engages both our visual brain as well as our hand. And it requires us to really process the scene around us.

    And those things we have a hand in creating become more meaningful to us. Whether that’s putting together a piece of flat pack furniture, or a meal you’ve cooked. So, by taking the time to sketch a scene around us on holiday, it’s also likely to help imbue the resulting image with more meaning and positivity.

    1. Philippa has the rare neurological condition of synesthesia, allowing her to see and experience colours, textures and shapes when listening, tasting of smelling.

    She was invited to curate a unique portrayal of summer memories by interpreting her sensory experience in the form of three pieces of art, bringing to life the sound, taste and smell of what her holiday looked like.
    Charles Spence said: “Just because the majority of us do not have synesthesia, or necessarily have the skills of a trained artist, that shouldn’t put us off putting pencil to paper. I’m a firm believer that we all can experience surprising connections between our senses that we might not be aware of.”

    Philippa added: “While you’re on holiday, why not practice trying to make these surprising sensory connections? It’s all about getting in touch with what you feel, and being more aware, you might even call it mindfulness.”

    “Doodling and sketching can be thought of as providing a structured framework for getting in touch with your inner synaesthete and, by so doing, you’re likely to strengthen those connections.”

    “When you come across an unusual fragrance, ask yourself what colour do you associate with it? Or try tasting an exotic juice. You can see what colour it is, but can you tell from taste alone whether the fruit is big or small? These may sound like impossible tasks, bizarre even, but the more you practice connecting your senses in new and surprising ways the easier it becomes.”

    If you have ever wondered how connected your senses are and whether you might have Synaesthesia, you can take Professor Charles’s quiz here: http://www.tuisensorialists.co.uk