Body Posture Facilitates Retrieval of Autobiographical Memories

Department of Psychology, Pepper Institute on Aging and Public Policy, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306-1270, USA.
Cognition (Impact Factor: 3.63). 02/2007; 102(1):139-49. DOI: 10.1016/j.cognition.2005.12.009
Source: PubMed


We assessed potential facilitation of congruent body posture on access to and retention of autobiographical memories in younger and older adults. Response times were shorter when body positions during prompted retrieval of autobiographical events were similar to the body positions in the original events than when body position was incongruent. Free recall of the autobiographical events two weeks later was also better for congruent-posture than for incongruent-posture memories. The findings were similar for younger and older adults, except for the finding that free recall was more accurate in younger adults than in older adults in the congruent condition. We discuss these findings in the context of theories of embodied cognition.


Available from: Rolf A Zwaan
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    • "Likewise, older adults may not benefit as much from embodied encoding compared to young adults when their memories that are being retrieved, are more remote (Dijkstra et al., 2007). On the other hand, in the posture study (Dijkstra et al., 2007), older adults demonstrated as much facilitation from congruent postures as younger adults. With these studies, domains, and claims, we have now a better understanding of one of the major mechanisms underlying embodiment; sensorimotor simulation. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This paper is a critical review of recent studies demonstrating the mechanism of sensorimotor simulation in different cognitive domains. Empirical studies that specify conditions under which embodiment occurs in different domains will be discussed and evaluated. Examples of relevant domains are language comprehension (Tucker and Ellis, 1998), autobiographical memory (Dijkstra et al., 2007), gestures (Alibali et al., 2014), facial mimicry (Stel and Vonk, 2010), and problem solving (Wiemers et al., 2014). The focus of the review is on supporting claims regarding sensorimotor simulation as well as on factors that modulate dynamic relationships between sensorimotor components in action and cognitive domains, such as expertise (Boschker et al., 2002). This discussion takes place within the context of currently debated issues, specifically the need to specify the underlying mechanisms of embodied representations (Zwaan, 2014; Körner et al., 2015).
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2015 · Frontiers in Psychology
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    • "Error rates for mental imagery tasks involving inspection are lowest when individuals are in a horizontal position (lying on one's side, right ear down), whereas in tasks of composition, errors are lowest when the individual is in supine position (lying on one's back) (Mast et al. 2003). In the memory domain, positive thoughts are more readily recalled while seated in an upright versus a slumped position (Wilson and Peper 2004) and retrieval of events is quicker when the current body posture is congruent with that of the event recalled (Dijkstra et al. 2007). A memory of waving to a person is recalled more quickly while actually standing up and waving. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The embodied cognition perspective has provided a formalization of the idea that the motor state is a characteristic of being that permeates all of human processing. We review this perspective and experimental evidence supporting its claim. It is further considered that the motor behaving human moves within various spaces, each affording different actions. To this end, it is proposed that the environmental surround is a critical variable in the embodied cognition perspective. Thoughts, inasmuch as they may be grounded in simulation of motor-behavioural responses, require time but also space. We suggest that these time-space considerations occur within a proposed concept of the potentiated state.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2015 · Cognitive Processing
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    • "As predicted by embodiment, several studies found that the body itself influences cognition (Casasanto, 2011; Osiurak et al., 2014). One study found that our body posture influence the retrieval of autobiographical memories in both young and older adults (Dijkstra et al., 2007). This suggests that memories depend on the context of the body as predicted by the embodied cognition theories. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Embodiment is revolutionizing the way we consider cognition by incorporating the influence of our body and of the current context within cognitive processing. A growing number of studies which support this view of cognition in young adults stands in stark contrast with the lack of evidence in favor of this view in the field of normal aging and neurocognitive disorders. Nonetheless, the validation of embodiment assumptions on the whole spectrum of cognition is a mandatory step in order for embodied cognition theories to become theories of human cognition. More pragmatically, aging populations represent a perfect target to test embodied cognition theories due to concomitant changes in sensory, motor and cognitive functioning that occur in aging, since these theories predict direct interactions between them. Finally, the new perspectives on cognition provided by these theories might also open new research avenues and new clinical applications in the field of aging. The present article aims at showing the value and interest to explore embodiment in normal and abnormal aging as well as introducing some potential theoretical and clinical applications.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2015 · Frontiers in Psychology
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