Let's pretend: The role of motoric imagery in memory for sentences and words


A number of theories suggest that for young children, concepts should have an important motoric (or sensory-motor) component. A levels-of-processing theory is proposed which predicts that processing on motoric imagery should facilitate memory for both isolated words and for sentences. Experiment 1 examined the effects of motoric enactment (viz., pretend play) of sentences on memory for the sentences. Motoric imagery facilitated memory for both children (5 to 7 years of age) and adults, though, contrary to expectations, the effects were weaker for the children than for the adults. Further, it was found that motoric imagery affected the initial acquisition, but was not important as a retreival cue. Experiment 2 examined the effects of motoric imagery on free recall of lists of unrelated words. Under these conditions, motoric imagery facilitated memory for both children (7 to 9 years of age) and adults equally; in contrast, visual imagery instructions had no effect on memory. These results indicate that motoric imagery may facilitate memory under conditions in which visual imagery has no effect. Theoretical implications are explored for previous experiments on pretend play which suggest that training for pretent enactment can facilitate cognitive development. © 1982.



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Journal of Experimental Child Psychology