Interacting with objects compresses environmental representations in spatial memory

Laura E. Thomas, Christopher C. Davoli, James R. Brockmole

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


People perceive individual objects as being closer when they have the ability to interact with the objects than when they do not. We asked how interaction with multiple objects impacts representations of the environment. Participants studied multiple-object layouts, by manually exploring or simply observing each object, and then drew a scaled version of the environment (Exp. 1) or reconstructed a copy of the environment and its boundaries (Exp. 2) from memory. The participants who interacted with multiple objects remembered these objects as being closer together and reconstructed smaller environment boundaries than did the participants who looked without touching. These findings provide evidence that action-based perceptual distortions endure in memory over a moving observer's multiple interactions, compressing not only representations between touched objects, but also untouched environmental boundaries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-107
Number of pages7
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013


  • Action-specific perception
  • Embodied cognition
  • Environments
  • Grasping
  • Interaction
  • Spatial memory


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