DOI: 10.1002/brb3.3226 ISSN:

Sentence memory recall in adolescents: Effects of motor enactment, keyboarding, and handwriting during encoding

Göran B. W. Söderlund, Silje Torvanger, Nouchine Hadjikhani, Jakob Åsberg Johnels
  • Behavioral Neuroscience



Prior research has shown that memory for action sentences is stronger when stimuli are enacted during encoding than simply listened to: the so‐called enactment effect. The goal of the present study was to explore how writing during encoding—through handwriting and through keyboarding—fares compared with enacting, in supporting memory recall.


One hundred Norwegian high school students (64 girls, 36 boys) aged 16–21 years (M = 17.1) participated in the study. Four lists of verb–noun sentences with 12 sentences in each list were presented in four encoding conditions: (i) motor enactment, (ii) verbal listening, (iii) handwriting, and (iv) keyboarding.


Results revealed a significant main effect of encoding condition, with the best memory gained in the enactment condition. Regarding writing, results showed that handwriting and keyboarding during encoding produced the lowest recall in comparison with the enactment and verbal listening conditions.


These results thus provide additional support for the enactment effect. While there has been much discussion on the relative benefits of handwriting versus keyboarding on student performance, both seemed to be equally poor strategies for the particular learning task explored here, potentially through increased cognitive load.

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