Given the widespread evidence for the importance of the motor system in conceptual memory and language processing, we investigated if action affordances also play a role in visual working memory for objects. Familiar (Experiment 1) and novel (Experiment 2) objects were presented in an N-back working memory task. The potential role of affordances was investigated by presenting manipulable (e.g., fork) and nonmanipulable (e.g., chimney) objects. Results showed that a concurrent motor task did not interfere differently with memory for objects with and without affordances. We conclude that motor affordances play no role in visual working memory.

article, cognition, controlled study, human, human experiment, major clinical study, motor system, normal human, object manipulation, personal experience, priority journal, psychomotor activity, psychomotor performance, task performance, visual information, visual memory, working memory,
Journal of Cognitive Psychology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Pecher, D, de Klerk, R.M, Klever, L, Post, S, van Reenen, J.G, & Vonk, M. (2013). The role of affordances for working memory for objects. Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 25(1), 107–118. doi:10.1080/20445911.2012.750324