Saturday, July 17, 2010

How our memory influences our eye movements

I recently read a very interesting paper in Vision Research, which
showed that even if it is not a useful thing to solve the task at
hand, your eyes will tend to go to items that you have in your short
term memory (Mannan, Kennard, Potter, Pan & Soto (2010) Early
oculomotor capture by new onsets driven by the contents of working
memory. Vision Research 50:1590). They had people perform a dual task
where they first got a color to maintain in memory, and then had to
make a saccade to a colored circle on a screen with a tilted line. It turned
out that they were often distracted by the color they held in their
memory, and saccaded to that circle instead. This study therefore
shows again how much our perception is automatic and colored (quite
literally, in this case) by the things we have in mind (in our working
memory, and I am sure in our long term memory as well). "With our
thoughts we make the world."
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