Cognitive Processing

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 429–434 | Cite as

Mere ownership of memory: motor manipulation during encoding affects memory for words

  • Jaclynn V. Sullivan
  • Jenna M. Potvin
  • Stephen D. Christman
Short Communication


Involving the body in learning increases the impact information has on memory (Johnson-Glenberg et al. in Front Psychol 7(1819):1–22, 2016), especially when that information is self-relevant (Truong et al. in J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 42(3):375–385, 2016). Yet, prior research has only examined the effect of self-relevant movement (i.e., toward the self or away from the self) on memory through passive joystick flexion or extension (Oakes and Onyper in Cognit Process 18:325–333, 2017). Therefore, the current research sought to replicate the “toward: remember” and “away: forget” motor-induced self-reference effects on memory with actual body movement. Participants in two experiments took notes on a word list and either pushed notes away, pulled notes toward them, moved notes laterally, or wrote the words in a list. Results showed that participants who pulled hand-written notes toward them had better recall than those who pushed notes away from them or moved them laterally. Results suggest implicitly taking ownership of material in an embodied manner may influence how much is recalled.


Movement Embodied cognition Motor manipulation Memory Self-reference 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the University of Toledo Institutional Review Board and with the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Marta Olivetti Belardinelli and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jaclynn V. Sullivan
    • 1
  • Jenna M. Potvin
    • 1
  • Stephen D. Christman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of ToledoToledoUSA

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