August 2016
Volume 16, Issue 12
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2016
Distinct roles of eye movements during memory encoding and retrieval
Author Affiliations
  • Claudia Damiano
    Department of Psychology, University of Toronto
  • Dirk Walther
    Department of Psychology, University of Toronto
Journal of Vision September 2016, Vol.16, 350. doi:
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      Claudia Damiano, Dirk Walther; Distinct roles of eye movements during memory encoding and retrieval. Journal of Vision 2016;16(12):350.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Eye movements help to facilitate memory for complex visual scenes. Here we ask whether the benefit of eye movements for memory is stronger during the encoding phase or the recognition phase. 20 participants viewed photographs of real-world scenes, followed by a new-old memory task. They were either allowed to freely explore the scenes via eye movements in both the study and test phases (Condition S+T+), or had to refrain from making eye movements in either the test phase (Condition S+T-), the study phase (Condition S-T+), or both (Condition S-T-). Recognition accuracy (d-prime) was significantly higher when participants were able to move their eyes (Condition S+T+: 1.16) than when they were constrained in some way (Condition S+T-: 0.67, Condition S-T+: 0.42, Condition S-T-: 0.35, p < 10-6). A separate analysis on Hit rates and False Alarm rates indicates a dissociation between the effects of eye movements on memory during the study and test phases. The Hit Rate was greatly influenced by the ability to make eye movements during the study phase, while the False Alarm rate was affected by whether participants could make eye movements during the test phase. Taken together, these results suggest that eye movements during the first viewing of a scene, used to visually explore and encode the scene, are critical for accurate subsequent memory. Eye movements during the test phase, on the other hand, are used to re-explore the scene and to confirm or deny recognition. Thus, eye movements during both the first encounter and subsequent encounters with a scene are beneficial for recognition through proper exploration, encoding, and re-exploration of the visual environment.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2016


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