Perception and Action Weighting in Memory Representations

  • Clare Kirtley

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    The research reported in the present explored the interaction between perception and action, focusing on how this might occur under memory conditions. This was done in line with the proposals of grounded cognition and situated action, in which action and perception are tightly linked, and able to influence one another in order to aid the performance of a task. Following this idea of a bi-directional loop between the two processes, studies were conducted which focused on each side of this relationship, in conditions where memory would be necessary. The first experiments investigated how the perception of objects and the memory of those perceived objects could influence the production of actions. Later studies examined how the preparation and performance of actions could affect the perception of a scene, and subsequent recall of the objects presented. Throughout these studies, object properties (e.g., shape, colour, position) were used as a means to either manipulate or measure the effect of the tasks.
    The findings of the studies suggested that weighting an off-line memory representation by means of the task setting was possible, but that this was not an automatic occurrence. Based on the results obtained, it seemed that there were conditions which would affect whether memories could be tailored to the current demands of the tasks, and that these conditions were linked to the realism of the situation. Factors such as the task complexity, the potential for object interaction and the immersive environment were all suggested as possible contributors to the construction and use of weighted representations.
    Overall, the studies conducted suggest that memory can play a role in guiding action, as on-line perception does, so long as the situation makes it clear that this is necessary. If such weightings are useful, then the memory will be constructed accordingly. However, if the situation is such that there is no clear task, then the memory representations will remain unaffected and unprepared for one specific action, or not be used to aid action. Memory can be seen as serving action, but our memory systems are flexible, allowing us to cope with the demands and restrictions of particular situations.
    Date of Award2014
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorBenjamin Tatler (Supervisor) & Douglas Potter (Supervisor)


    • Perception
    • Action
    • Memory
    • Eye-movements

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