Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp 322-338

First online:

Environmental invariants in the representation of motion: Implied dynamics and representational momentum, gravity, friction, and centripetal force

  • Timothy L. HubbardAffiliated withUniversity of Arizona


Memory for the final position of a moving target is often shifted or displaced from the true final position of that target. Early studies of this memory shift focused on parallels between the momentum of the target and the momentum of the representation of the target and called this displacementrepresentational momentum, but many factors other than momentum contribute to the memory shift. A consideration of the empirical literature on representational momentum and related types of displacement suggests there are at least four different types of factors influencing the direction and magnitude of such memory shifts: stimulus characteristics (e.g., target direction, target velocity), implied dynamics and environmental invariants (e.g., implied momentum, gravity, friction, centripetal force), memory averaging of target and nontarget context (e.g., biases toward previous target locations or nontarget context), and observers’ expectations (both tacit and conscious) regarding future target motion and target/context interactions. Several theories purporting to account for representational momentum and related types of displacement are also considered.