Revue de neuropsychologie


What memory for action is? Review and perspectives Volume 5, issue 2, Avril-Mai-Juin 2013

Inserm, U1077, 14000 Caen, France, Université de Caen - Basse-Normandie, UMR-S1077, 14000 Caen, France, École pratique des hautes études, UMR-S1077, 14000 Caen, France, CHU de Caen, UMR-S1077, avenue de la Côte-de-Nacre, CS 30001, 14033 Caen cedex 9, France

This paper presents a summary of memory for action researches, in normal functioning and neurological pathologies. Memory for action is a distinct form of episodic memory, especially important in everyday life although current literature is not very abundant. The enactment effect (i.e. better memory for performed actions than for verbally encoded sentences) is usually described as a robust effect in aging and can be found in many diseases. Although the enactment effect has been studied for three decades, there is still no consensus on how it enhances memory. Different theories postulate the motor component is crucial, the importance of binding or goal-oriented actions. Memory for action also gives information concerning source memory and sense of agency (i.e. subjective awareness that one is controlling his own movement). Moreover, numerous studies showed the importance of enactment effect in children and adults’ new learning, and an opportunity to use this effect in patients’ rehabilitation, including amnesic ones. Characteristics of memory for actions and mechanisms underlying enactment effect still remain unclear and other researches need to be performed.