Touch and Memory

(Josh Cohen) #1

This might have practical applications:

Touch Can Produce Detailed, Lasting Memories

In a second experiment, a new group of participants explored the same 168 objects without knowing they would be tested on them. Instead, the experimenters said that they were investigating aesthetic judgments, and they asked the participants to rate the pleasantness of each object based on texture, shape, and weight.

Participants returned 1 week later for a surprise memory test, completing a blindfolded touch-based recognition task for half of the objects. For the rest of the objects, they completed a visual recognition task, in which they saw the original object and a similar object placed on a table, and indicated which one they previously explored. After each trial, the participants also reported if they answered based on recalling details of their touch-based exploration, feeling a vague familiarity, or simply guessing.

Again, the results showed that participants remembered the objects with high accuracy. In the blindfolded test, participants answered correctly on 79% of the trials. In the cross-modal visual test, participants identified the correct object 73% of the time.

The question of how many of our perceptual experiences are stored in long-term memory has received considerable attention. The present study examined long-term memory for haptic experiences. Blindfolded participants haptically explored 168 everyday objects (e.g., a pen) for 10 s each. In a blindfolded memory test, they indicated which of two objects from the same basic-level category (e.g., two different pens) had been touched before. As shown in Experiment 1 ( N = 26), memory was nearly perfect when tested immediately after exploration (94%) and still high when tested after 1 week (85%). As shown in Experiment 2 ( N = 43), when participants explored the objects without the intention to memorize them, memory in a 1-week delayed surprise test was still high (79%), even when assessed with a cross-modal visual memory test (73%). These results indicate that detailed, durable, long-term memory representations are stored as a natural product of haptic perception.

Long-Term Memory for Haptically Explored Objects: Fidelity, Durability, Incidental Encoding, and Cross-Modal Transfer via Neuroscience News.