"Being there" and remembering it: Presence improves memory encoding


Few studies have investigated the link between episodic memory and presence: the feeling of “being there” and reacting to a stimulus as if it were real. We collected data from 244 participants after they had watched the movie Avengers: Age of Ultron. They answered questions about factual (details of the movie) and temporal memory (order of the scenes) about the movie, as well as their emotion experience and their sense of presence during the projection. Both higher emotion experience and sense of presence were related to better factual memory, but not to temporal order memory. Crucially, the link between emotion and factual memory was mediated by the sense of presence. We interpreted the role of presence as an external absorption of the attentional focus toward the stimulus, thus enhancing memory encoding. Our findings could shed light on the cognitive processes underlying memory impairments in psychiatric conditions characterized by an altered sense of reality.

Consciousness and cognition, 53, 194-202
Dominique Makowski
Dominique Makowski
Presidential Research Fellow

Trained as neuropsychologist and CBT psychotherapist, I am currently working as a researcher at the Clinical Brain Lab in Singapore, on the neuroscience of reality perception.