December 2022
Volume 22, Issue 14
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   December 2022
Understanding eye movements as retrieval cues: the role of peripheral visual input
Author Affiliations
  • Keren Taub
    Sagol school of neuroscience, Tel Aviv University
  • Shlomit Yuval-Greenberg
    Sagol school of neuroscience, Tel Aviv University
    School of psychological sciences, Tel-Aviv University
Journal of Vision December 2022, Vol.22, 3593. doi:
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      Keren Taub, Shlomit Yuval-Greenberg; Understanding eye movements as retrieval cues: the role of peripheral visual input. Journal of Vision 2022;22(14):3593.

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

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When people try to remember previously seen visual information, they often tend to move their eyes similarly to when they encoded it. These eye movements were suggested to enhance memory performance, and were, therefore, hypothesized to act as a retrieval cue. Yet, every time we move our eyes, two distinct features change: the visual input on the retina and the muscular position of the eye. It is unknown which of these features contribute to the role of eye movements as retrieval cues. In our experiment, participants (N=40) performed a memory task, while their eyes were monitored. Each block consisted of two phases: encoding and test. During encoding, participants were presented with 24 images of objects facing right or left (180 seconds). During each trial of the test, participants heard statements regarding the objects' orientation (left/right), and their location relative to other objects. Participants were asked to determine whether those statements were true or false, and how confident there are in their decision. In addition, during the test, participants either faced a blank computer screen, preserving the peripheral stimulation that was visible during encoding, such as the monitor borders (visual condition); or they faced a large black board, occluding the screen and much of the peripheral visual information (non-visual condition). Results showed that regardless of the visual information that was available, participants tended to move their eyes to the same screen quadrant in which the object was presented during encoding. However, gazing at the same quadrant enhanced performance only in the visual condition, when peripheral visual information was available, but not when it was occluded. We conclude that although the gaze tends to shift to encoded locations regardless of visual input, the mechanism by which eye movements enhance memory performance depends on visual information more than on motor one.


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