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Mem Cognit. 2006 Jul;34(5):1126-32.

The role of perceptually represented structure in analogical problem solving.

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School of Psychology, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30332-0176, USA.


Current models of analogical reasoning assume that representations of source examples and target problems occur in an amodal format--that is, a representation whose construction and processing are independent of activity in the perceptual and motor cortices of the brain. We examined the possible use of kinesthetic information--perceptual structures associated with the sensation of space and force--in the representation of source examples and target problems. Participants who recreated a source story while acting out the key elements were more likely to access the story when later working on the target problem than were participants who only verbally recreated the story or who verbally recreated it as well as sketched it. We argue that enactment made kinesthetic and spatial features more salient in participants' source story representations and that this aided performance. These results suggest that current models of analogical reasoning might be improved by including perceptual information as part of their representational schemes.

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