Psychological Research

, Volume 51, Issue 4, pp 201–207 | Cite as

Sensory and conceptual representations in memory: Motor images that cannot be imaged

  • Walter J. Perrig
  • Daniel Hofer


The paper argues for a distinction between sensory-and conceptual-information storage in the human information-processing system. Conceptual information is characterized as meaningful and symbolic, while sensory information may exist in modality-bound form. Furthermore, it is assumed that sensory information does not contribute to conscious remembering and can be used only in data-driven process reptitions, which can be accompanied by a kind of vague or intuitive feeling. Accordingly, pure top-down and willingly controlled processing, such as free recall, should not have any access to sensory data. Empirical results from different research areas and from two experiments conducted by the authors are presented in this article to support these theoretical distinctions. The experiments were designed to separate a sensory-motor and a conceptual component in memory for two-digit numbers and two-letter items, when parts of the numbers or items were imaged or drawn on a tablet. The results of free recall and recognition are discussed in a theoretical framework which distinguishes sensory and conceptual information in memory.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Walter J. Perrig
    • 1
  • Daniel Hofer
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of BaselBaselSwitzerland

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