Implementing full body movements in a verbal memory task: Searching for benefits but finding mainly costs
Studies on “embodiment” show that moving your body can enhance cognition. We investigated such effects in a verbal memory task across age. In study 1, children, adolescents, and young adults (N = 148) were tested in group-sessions and reproduced number series of increasing length. In the "embodied" condition, subjects walked to numbered gymnastic mats. In the "sitting" condition, the numbers were presented visually. All age groups, except the youngest, showed a deterioration of verbal memory performance in the embodied condition compared to sitting. In study 2, young adults (n = 33, Mage = 24.5 years) and children (n = 28, Mage = 7.3 years) were tested individually, with smaller target fields. There were no differences in verbal memory performance between the conditions. This indicates that “embodiment” does not always lead to performance enhancements. Instead, moving through space while thinking represents a dual-task situation, causing performance decrements across age.