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Archive for 11/06/2010

Motor actions connected to memory

Neurophilosophy has a posting on embodiment (here) that looks to a motor action/emotional memory link using K. Dijkstra’s work among others.

These results show that bodily movements can influence the rate at which autobiographical memories are recalled as well as the emotional content of the memories. The results of the first experiment demostrate that what we do with our bodies can affect how we think - memory recollection was more efficient when the direction of movement was congruent with the valency of the emotional content of the memory. The second experiment further demonstrates, for the first time, that meaningless bodily movements can also influence what we choose to think about, with upwards movements being associated with positive memories and downward movements with negative ones.

It is well known that memory recollection is facilitated when the context in which recollection occurs matches that in which encoding took place. Classical studies of context-dependent retrieval focused on aspects of the environment in which memory encoding and retrieval take place, and Dijkstra extended this to show that context also includes body posture. The new findings show that movements which are completely unrelated to the encoding of emotional memories can also influence their retrieval. They add to a growing body of evidence that supports the embodied cognition hypothesis; specifically, they provide evidence that thinking involves creating mental simulations of bodily experiences, and that knowledge is represented by partial re-enactments in the brain which activate the same systems associated with real experiences.

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