Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 26, Issue 6, pp 1747–1766 | Cite as

Embodied memories: Reviewing the role of the body in memory processes

  • Francesco IanìEmail author
Theoretical Review


This review aims at exploring the role of the body and its sensorimotor processes in memory. Recent theories have suggested that memories can profitably be seen as mental simulations consisting in the reactivation of sensorimotor patterns originally associated with events at encoding, rather than amodal mental representations. The sensorimotor model of memory (SMM) claims that the body is the medium where (and through which) sensorimotor modalities actually simulate the somatosensory components of remembered events, and predicts that memory processes can be manipulated through manipulation of the body. The review analyzes experimental evidence in favor of the SMM and the claim that the body is at stake in memory processes. The review then highlights how, at the current state of research, the majority of this evidence concerns the effect of body manipulations on memory processes rather than memory representations. It considers the need for a more circumstantial outline of the actual extent to which the body is capable of affecting memory, specifically on some important areas still unexplored, such as the sense of recollection. Resulting strengths and limitations of the SMM are discussed in relation to the more general debate on the embodied cognition.


Memory Body Embodied cognition Sensorimotor reactivation Recollection 



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© The Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di PsicologiaUniversità di TorinoTurinItaly

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