Grab that face, hammer, or line: No effect of hands position on visual memory

Tomer Sahar, Tal Makovski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Is visual memory enhanced near the hands? The embodied cognition framework postulates that body states and action greatly influence cognition. Accordingly, numerous studies have argued that hands position affects visual perception and attention. However, it is less clear whether this effect could be extended to visual memory. Thus, to examine the consequences of hands position on memory, more than 300 participants were tested in 7 experiments (including one direct replication) that investigated memory for information presented near and far from the hands. Because past studies argued that the hands position effect might be related to magnocellular and parvocellular processing, the to-be-remembered items included both high- and low-spatially filtered faces, simple colors and line orientations, as well as graspable objects. Overall, the data from all conditions tested in those experiments unequivocally showed no reliable impact of hands position on visual memory. Bayesian analyses provided further support for a credible lack of hands position impact on memory, regardless of the type of the presented stimuli or task demands. These data clearly suggest that hands position has no meaningful lasting impact, implying in turn that any effect of hands position on performance is limited and should be taken skeptically.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)936-950
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 American Psychological Association.


  • Embodied cognition
  • Magnocellular-parvocellular
  • Spatial frequency
  • The near-hands effect
  • Visual memory


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