A method for studying representation of action and cognitive distance

Davi Vann Bugmann, Kenny Coventry

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Past studies examining the effects of action on memory for route distance have overlooked the problem of the control of visual information. A new methodology was developed to investigate the involvement of action on the representation of
route distance information in two experiments which eliminated the possible confounding effects of visual cues. In both experiments the number of turns was manipulated. Blindfolded participants learned new environments through
verbal descriptions by imagining themselves walking in synchronization with metronome beats preset to match their natural walking speed. During turns, they were carefully moved. Following instructions, they performed an action at
mid-route. Upon reaching the destination, their memories for the newly learned environments were tested through recall and measured again (with metronome beats representing footsteps). In Experiment 1 participants were exposed to the
environment only once, and in Experiment 2 they were exposed to the environment twice. The results were consistent across the experiments and showed the influence of number of turns on remembered distances. Our data support the segmentation hypothesis with regard to the perception of the
segment length and the influence of the number of turns on path distance estimates. However, our data point to a more parsimonious explanation in terms of body movement that triggers attentional processes which signal memory for events.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 26th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society
EditorsK.D Forbus, D Gentner, T Regier
Place of PublicationMahwah, NJ
PublisherLawrence Erlbaum Associates
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2004

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