Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 223, Issue 2, pp 199–206 | Cite as

Object affordance influences instruction span

  • Jens K. Apel
  • Angelo Cangelosi
  • Rob Ellis
  • Jeremy Goslin
  • Martin H. Fischer
Research Article


We measured memory span for assembly instructions involving objects with handles oriented to the left or right side. Right-handed participants remembered more instructions when objects’ handles were spatially congruent with the hand used in forthcoming assembly actions. No such affordance-based memory benefit was found for left-handed participants. These results are discussed in terms of motor simulation as an embodied rehearsal mechanism.


Action simulation Affordance Embodied cognition Rehearsal Sequential instruction Working memory 



This work was funded by EPSRC under the Cognitive Foresight Program (EP/F028598/1). We thank SR Research for their prompt and reliable software support and Audrey Walker for efficient data collection.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jens K. Apel
    • 1
    • 2
  • Angelo Cangelosi
    • 3
  • Rob Ellis
    • 4
  • Jeremy Goslin
    • 4
  • Martin H. Fischer
    • 1
    • 5
  1. 1.School of PsychologyUniversity of DundeeDundeeScotland, UK
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WuppertalWuppertalGermany
  3. 3.School of Computing and MathematicsUniversity of PlymouthPlymouthUK
  4. 4.School of PsychologyUniversity of PlymouthPlymouthUK
  5. 5.Division of Cognitive SciencesUniversity of PotsdamPotsdamGermany

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