Encoding the world around us: Motor-related processing influences verbal memory

Consciousness and Cognition 21 (3):1563-1570 (2012)
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It is known that properties of words such as their imageability can influence our ability to remember those words. However, it is not known if other object-related properties can also influence our memory. In this study we asked whether a word representing a concrete object that can be functionally interacted with would enhance the memory representations for that item compared to a word representing a less manipulable object . Here participants incidentally encoded high-manipulability and low-manipulability words while making word judgments. Using a between-subjects design, we varied the depth-of-processing involved in the word judgment task: participants judged the words based on personal experience , word length , or functionality . Participants were able to remember high-manipulability words better than low-manipulability words in both the personal experience and word length groups; thus presenting the first evidence that manipulability can influence memory. However, we observed better memory for low- than high-manipulability words in the functionality group. We explain this surprising interaction between manipulability and memory as being mediated by automatic vs. controlled motor-related cognition



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