Autobiographical Memory: Embodied Memory Effect

The studies of memory research have been always of great interest to psychologists as memory is one of the most studied processes in psychology. At the same time, there are still many unresolved issues in the memory concept that have not been fully developed because memory is a complex phenomenon of human mental activity. The given term paper is aimed at studying phenomena of the impact of embodied memory on autobiographical memory. Broadly speaking, embodied memory capacity is dependent on the features of the physical body. Cognition is embodied when the aspects an individual’s body takes a more significant role or physically constitutive importance in cognitive processing beyond the brain’s role. The embodied memory science seeks to fully comprehend the complete range of perception, cognition and the motor capacities that people possess.

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The main article for this analysis was done by Daniel Casasanto and Katinka Dijkstra when they carried a research on motor action alongside emotional memory. The second article was written by Karen Davranche and Terry McMorris focusing on the specific influences of acute to moderate practices on one’s cognitive control. The last article was done by Karen Davranche and Michel Audiffren who focused on facilitation influences of exercise on processing of information. The three articles have effectively used similar experimental paradigms in that they are empirically developed with clear hypotheses and conclusions. Most importantly, it is evident that motor actions have been proved in the three articles to have great influence on the way people can recollect their emotional memories. They also have effects on valence in that it can be positive or negative. This paper provides a deep literature review of three articles focusing on autobiographical memory and specifically on embodied memory effect, hence proving that motor actions have notable effects on people’s cognitive memory.

First Study by Daniel Casasanto and Katinka Dijkstra

Does congruity between action and valence determine the efficiency of memory retrieval? In case of the presence of an efficiency impact, beyond the efficiency, can the irrelevant motor actions also influence the emotional content of the memories individuals choose to recall. These are the hypotheses that this study was based on.
The methodology utilized two experiments. The first experiment, the participants were prompted to recall and recount the autobiographical memories by utilization of either the positive or negative valence. This was done concurrently with the movement of marbles upward and downward. There was a prediction that the marble movement would have an impact on autobiographical memory. The subjects were expected to retrieve memories faster when the movement direction was congruent with the memory valence they were prompted to recall. The second experiment, the subjects were provided with valence neutral prompts and were directed to move marbles on either direction while retrieving memory. There was a prediction that the subjects would retrieve more positive memories when directed to move marbles upwards and more negative memories when directed to move them downwards. The first experiment was designed to determine if congruity between action and valence determined the efficiency of the subjects’ memory retrieval. The second experiment was designed to prove if beyond the efficiency, the irrelevant motor actions also influenced the emotional content of the memories participants chose to recall.
The results obtained from the study illustrated the notable influences on retrieval of the participants’ autobiographical memories. The first experiment, the participants were observed to retrieve memories faster when the marble movement direction was congruent with the memory valence. In the second experiment, the subjects were observed to retrieve more positive memories when directed to move the marbles upwards and more negative memories when directed to move the marbles downwards.
The results suggested that the life experiences were closely associated with the schematic representation of the motions. The positive emotions were an indication of upward movements and on the other hand, the negative emotions were determined by downward marble movements. The conclusions drawn from this study indicated that motor actions tend to measure the level of valence with which people choose to remember things. As noted earlier in the hypothesis, it is clear that sectional representation of memory is highly dependent on metaphorical actions. In other words, emotional memories in human beings not only intertwine with particular embodied movements, but also with schematized motor activities.

Study 2 by Karen Davranche and Terry McMorris

Is the cognitive control influenced by acute or moderate practices in an interference task? In case of presence of influence, is the selective response proficiency inhibition majorly solicited during the Simon task influenced by exercise? These hypotheses provide the basis for the study.
The methodology utilized for this research involved a Simon task. There were twelve subjects who participated in a Simon task while cycling at a carefully monitored workload intensity in correlation to their personal ventilator threshold. In that case, all participants were required to choose a task-related element of stimulus such as color. They were then required to inhibit surrounding’s task-unrelated element of a similar stimulus. The distribution-analytical strategy and the delta plot evaluation were utilized in the assessment of the role of selective response inhibition in the resolving of response conflict.
The results of this study indicated cognitive processes tended to be differently influenced by acute and moderate activities. The reaction time outcomes showed that performances were improved when cognitive activity was done simultaneously with the activities. In addition, trial adjustments that is the post-conflict and post-error showed that cognitive control alterations were efficient at a time of motor actions or exercises. However, the impact of congruency that is the Simon effect was more pronounced during the activities in comparison to the rest.
In conclusion, the cognition is influenced differently by acute and moderate activities, the results also demonstrated that the response inhibition deteriorates during activities. Presently, there are results that suggest that the acute and moderate activities affect particular cognitive functions aspects differently.

Experiment 3 by Karen Davranche and Michel Audiffren

Does the sub-maximal exercise raise performance on one’s choice of reaction period activity? The hypothesis was developed alongside the aim of the study that was to determine facilitation effects of moderate exercise (physical in nature) on the reaction time in order to acquire a clear understanding of the relationship between cognitive and physiological actions.
The methodology utilized empirical procedures whose results were later analyzed by utilization of various methods such as regression analysis. The study utilized sixteen participants who had particular expertise on sports in terms of decision making. These participants were required to engage in double activities that were choice reaction time tasks as they cycled. Several elements such as signal quality, time uncertainty as well as stimulus-response were altered. All participants were examined both at rest and when cycling at their maximum aerobic strength. Additionally, there were mood assessment questionnaires that were distributed before and after the tasks.
The study results indicated that moderately and intensive practices that involved approximately fifty percent of aerobic energy raised the people’s cognitive level. On the other hand, the low-intensity practices enabled the people to recover negative double-activity effect. The results proved that sub-maximal practices raise performance level in terms of emotional memory or cognitive capacity. Signal quality along with stimulus-response alterations increased variance in reaction period.
The reproduction of space, power and timing parameters of movements is shown in the accurate performance of motor actions. Their development is determined by the improvement of sensitive mechanisms of regulation of movements. The reproduction accuracy of power and timing parameters of motor actions is characterized by the ability to differentiate muscular effort on the instructions or necessity related to the conditions of a task. The development of the accuracy of timing parameters of movements is aimed at improving the so-called sense of time, which is the ability to differentiate the temporal characteristics of motor actions.
Studies’ Synthesis
Based on the critical analysis of the above three studies, it is quite evident that they are in the same line of experimentation. The three are focused on autobiographical memory and study the phenomenon of embodied memory effects in regards to different factors that could affect memory. The fact that the phenomenon of embodied cognition can be characterized by different factors, as well as different features affecting memories allowed reviewing it through the prism of three empirical studies. They are related to sensorimotor activity, cognitive intelligence and studies related to sub-maximal exercises.
The experiments suggested that every factor and detail have an impact on a person’s perception to reproduce an important part of his/her memories. The average share of the brain is responsible for autobiographical memories. It is suggested that the structure, which is located deep in the middle lobe of the brain called the amygdala, works in conjunction with the other agencies to improve the brain’s ability to for, encode and restore emotional events. Although the neurological basis of this phenomenon has not fully been understood, embodied memory is not an independent subject of memory. Thus, a neurophysiological explanation of this phenomenon is still being debated.
In the first experiment, motor actions influence the efficiency of people’s emotional memory retrieval along with what they can remember. Moving marbles upwards or downwards was a clear proof of valence. The second experiment made it evident that cognitive control is influenced by acute moderate practices. That was done using the Simon effect indicating that the influence of congruency was increasingly relevant at a time of task performance than when participants were resting. Finally, the third study indicated that moderate-intensity practices that engaged a half of maximal aerobic energy raised people’s cognitive functionalism.

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