Reformulated Research Question

Question: Does movement accompanying an action help to remember that action?

Katinka Dijkstra, Michael P. Kaschak, Rolf A. Zwaan, (January 2007) ‘Body posture facilitates retrieval of autobiographical memories,’ Cognition, Volume 102, Issue 1, Pages 139-149, ISSN 0010-0277,

Abstract: “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.”

Bettina Bläsing, Beatriz Calvo-Merino, Emily S. Cross, Corinne Jola, Juliane Honisch, Catherine J. Stevens, (February 2012) ‘Neurocognitive control in dance perception and performance,’ Acta Psychologica, Volume 139, Issue 2,  Pages 300-308, ISSN 0001-6918,

Abstract: “Dance is a rich source of material for researchers interested in the integration of movement and cognition. The multiple aspects of embodied cognition involved in performing and perceiving dance have inspired scientists to use dance as a means for studying motor control, expertise, and action-perception links. The aim of this review is to present basic research on cognitive and neural processes implicated in the execution, expression, and observation of dance, and to bring into relief contemporary issues and open research questions. The review addresses six topics: 1) dancers’ exemplary motor control, in terms of postural control, equilibrium maintenance, and stabilization; 2) how dancers’ timing and on-line synchronization are influenced by attention demands and motor experience; 3) the critical roles played by sequence learning and memory; 4) how dancers make strategic use of visual and motor imagery; 5) the insights into the neural coupling between action and perception yielded through exploration of the brain architecture mediating dance observation; and 6) a neuroesthetics perspective that sheds new light on the way audiences perceive and evaluate dance expression. Current and emerging issues are presented regarding future directions that will facilitate the ongoing dialog between science and dance.”

Grafton, S. T. (2009), ‘Embodied Cognition and the Simulation of Action to Understand Others. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences,’ 1156: 97–117. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.04425.x

“Understanding the goals or intentions of other people requires a broad range of evaluative processes including the decoding of biological motion, knowing about object properties, and abilities for recognizing task space requirements and social contexts. It is becoming increasingly evident that some of this decoding is based in part on the simulation of other people’s behavior within our own nervous system. This review focuses on aspects of action understanding that rely on embodied cognition, that is, the knowledge of the body and how it interacts with the world. This form of cognition provides an essential knowledge base from which action simulation can be used to decode at least some actions performed by others. Recent functional imaging studies or action understanding are interpreted with a goal of defining conditions when simulation operations occur and how this relates with other constructs, including top-down versus bottom-up processing and the functional distinctions between action observation and social networks. From this it is argued that action understanding emerges from the engagement of highly flexible computational hierarchies driven by simulation, object properties, social context, and kinematic constraints and where the hierarchy is driven by task structure rather than functional or strict anatomic rules.”

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