Project Description

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  • Embodiment and Grounded Cognition
  • Memory
  • Cognitive Science



Doctoral Student;
Psychology, Western University

I am a PhD student here at Western University. I am co-supervised by Dr. Kohler and Dr. McRae. Broadly, my research is about human memory. I am especially interested in our ability to precisely recall where we have placed different objects. Currently, I am testing whether we are better at recalling these precise locations if we have placed the objects ourselves. Besides the applied relevance of being able to remember where we’ve left an object, this is an important theoretical question because forces us to ask what role movement plays in memory, or in understanding more broadly. In the memory tasks that I use in the lab, I use continuous measures, which means I record the participants movements as they attempt to place objects back in their learned positions. This allows us to understand how the process of object-location recall unfolds over time.

I am a second year PhD student here at Western University, co-supervised by Dr. Kohler, and Dr. McRae. In my MSc and now in my PhD I have been investigating how factors such as bodily state and movement influence our ability to understand the world around us. In my MSc, I used body illusions (like the rubber hand illusion) to alter the state of the body as participants read words. Using representational similarity analysis, I demonstrated that illusions disrupt the pattern of the neural activity observed during reading. Now, in my dissertation work, I am investigating whether self-generated movement during encoding alters the retrieval of precise object-location pairings during a memory task. Additionally, I am interested in the dynamics of memory, and I use continuous measures (such as computer mouse tracking and EEG) to understand what is happening as we attempt to retrieve information that we’ve previously learned. My empirical work stems from the embodied cognition perspective, and I am highly motivated to consider the ways in which body-environment systems impact memory.

MacRae, S., Duffels, B., Duchesne, A., Siakaluk, P.D., Matheon, H.E. (2022). God in body and space: Investigating sensorimotor grounding in abstract concepts. Frontiers in Psychology, 13: 1-13


MacRae, S., Matheson, H.E. (2022). The role of body representations in higher order cognition. Poster presented at the 44th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society. Toronto, ON, Canada.

MacRae, S., Matheson, H.E. (2023). Using body ownership illusions to disrupt task performance during reading. Poster presented at the 50th Annual Lake Ontario Visionary Establishment (LOVE) Conference, Niagara Falls, ON, Canada.

MacRae, S., Matheson, H.E. (2023). Understanding sensorimotor contributions to verb comprehension: an EEG investigation. Poster presented at 33rd Annual Canadian Society for Brain, Behaviour, and Cognitive Science. Guelph, ON., Canada


MacRae, S., LePage, A., Duchesne, A., Siakaluk, P., & Matheson, H.E. (2019). Investigating how the brain represents abstract concepts: God in body and space. Paper presented at the 29th meeting of the Canadian Society for Brain Behaviour and Cognitive Science, Waterloo, ON, Canada.

Matheson, H.E.(*), MacRae, S., White, N. (2022). The timing of sensorimotor activation in picture and word comprehension: A spatiotemporal representational similarity analysis. Presented at the 32nd annual meeting of the Canadian Society for Brain Behaviour and Cognitive Science, Halifax, NS, Canada