City Research Online

Beyond action observation: Neurobehavioral mechanisms of memory for visually perceived bodies and actions

Galvez-Pol, A., Forster, B. ORCID: 0000-0001-5126-7854 & Calvo-Merino, B. ORCID: 0000-0003-4669-4573 (2020). Beyond action observation: Neurobehavioral mechanisms of memory for visually perceived bodies and actions. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 116, pp. 508-518. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2020.06.014


Examining the processing of others’ body-related information in the perceivers’ brain (action observation) is a key topic in cognitive neuroscience. However, what happens beyond the perceptual stage, when the body is not within view and it is transformed into an associative form that can be stored, updated, and later recalled, remains poorly understood. Here we examine neurobehavioural evidence on the memory processing of visually perceived bodily stimuli (dynamic actions and images of bodies). The reviewed studies indicate that encoding and maintaining bodily stimuli in memory recruits the sensorimotor system. This process arises when bodily stimuli are either recalled through action recognition or reproduction. Interestingly, the memory capacity for these stimuli is rather limited: only 2 or 3 bodily stimuli can be simultaneously held in memory. Moreover, this process is disrupted by increasing concurrent bodily operations; i.e., moving one’s body, seeing or memorising additional bodies. Overall, the evidence suggests that the neural circuitry allowing us to move and feel ourselves supports the encoding, retention, and memory recall of others’ visually perceived bodies.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2020. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Publisher Keywords: Memory, Action observation, Action perception, Body perception, Body stimuli, Motor imagery, Mirror neurons, Working memory, Sensorimotor recruitment, Embodiment, Motor memory, Motor simulation
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of Galvez-Pol Forster Calvo-Merino_2020_Beyond Action Observation NBR.pdf]
Text - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (764kB) | Preview


Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login