Grounded-cognition theories suggest that memory shares processing resources with perception and action. The motor system could be used to help memorize visual objects. In two experiments, we tested the hypothesis that people use motor affordances to maintain object representations in working memory. Participants performed a working memory task on photographs of manipulable and nonmanipulable objects. The manipulable objects were objects that required either a precision grip (i.e., small items) or a power grip (i.e., large items) to use. A concurrent motor task that could be congruent or incongruent with the manipulable objects caused no difference in working memory performance relative to nonmanipulable objects. Moreover, the precision- or power-grip motor task did not affect memory performance on small and large items differently. These findings suggest that the motor system plays no part in visual working memory.

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Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics
Department of Psychology

Quak, M, Pecher, D, & Zeelenberg, R. (2014). Effects of motor congruence on visual working memory. Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics, 76(7), 2063–2070. doi:10.3758/s13414-014-0654-y