Motor Simulation in a Memory Task: Evidence from Rock Climbing


This study concerns the role of motor simulations in a memory task performed by expert and novice climbers. In a behavioural task, expert and novice rock climbers were shown three novel climbing routes: an easy route, a route impossible to climb but perceptually salient, and a difficult route. After a distraction task, they were given a recall test in which they had to write down the sequence of holds composing each route. No difference emerged between experts and novices on the easy and impossible routes. Differently, the performance of expert climbers was better than that of novices on the difficult route. Results suggest that seeing a climbing wall activates a motor, embodied simulation, which relies not on perceptual salience, but on motor competence. Crucially, it is shown that the ability to form this simulation is modulated by individuals’ motor repertoire and expertise, and that this strongly impacts recall.

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