Autobiographical memory and motor action [Abstract]

Dijkstra, K., & Casasanto, D. (2008). Autobiographical memory and motor action [Abstract]. In B. C. Love, K. McRae, & V. M. Sloutsky (Eds.), Proceedings of the 30th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 1549). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.
Retrieval of autobiographical memories is facilitated by activation of perceptuo-motor aspects of the experience, for example a congruent body position at the time of the experiencing and the time of retelling (Dijkstra, Kaschak, & Zwaan, 2007). The present study examined whether similar retrieval facilitation occurs when the direction of motor action is congruent with the valence of emotional memories. Consistent with evidence that people mentally represent emotions spatially (Casasanto, in press), participants moved marbles between vertically stacked boxes at a higher rate when the direction of movement was congruent with the valence of the memory they retrieved (e.g., upward for positive memories, downward for negative memories) than when direction and valence were incongruent (t(22)=4.24, p<.001). In addition, valence-congruent movements facilitated access to these memories, resulting in shorter retrieval times (t(22)=2.43, p<.05). Results demonstrate bidirectional influences between the emotional content of autobiographical memories and irrelevant motor actions.
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