Misplacing memories? An enactive approach to the virtual memory palace

Consciousness and Cognition 76 (C):102834 (2019)
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In this paper, we evaluate the pragmatic turn towards embodied, enactive thinking in cognitive science, in the context of recent empirical research on the memory palace technique. The memory palace is a powerful method for remembering yet it faces two problems. First, cognitive scientists are currently unable to clarify its efficacy. Second, the technique faces significant practical challenges to its users. Virtual reality devices are sometimes presented as a way to solve these practical challenges, but currently fall short of delivering on that promise. We address both issues in this paper. First, we argue that an embodied, enactive approach to memory can better help us understand the effectiveness of the memory palace. Second, we present design recommendations for a virtual memory palace. Our theoretical proposal and design recommendations contribute to solving both problems and provide reasons for preferring an embodied, enactive account over an information-processing treatment of the memory palace.

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