Is there a way to get a more accurate reading of memory? A new study says yes. “Eye movements are drawn quickly to remembered objects,” says Deborah Hannula, assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, who conducted the study with Carol L. Baym and Neal J. Cohen of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and David E. Warren of the University of Iowa College of Medicine. Tracking where and for how long a person focuses his or her eyes “can distinguish previously seen from novel materials even when behavioral reports fail to do so.” The findings will appear in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal published by the Association for Psychological Science.
The researchers gave university students 36 faces to study. These target faces were also morphed to produce images closely resembling them; the morphed phases were not seen during the study phase. The students were then shown 36 three-face displays, one at a time. Told that the studied faces wouldn’t always be there, the participants had to press a button indicating which face was the studied one, or simply choose a face if they felt none had been studied. They then reported verbally whether the studied target face was present or not. While they looked at the 3-face display, their eye movements were recorded, tracking where the eyes focused first and what proportion of time was spent looking there. For the analysis, the psychologists divided the faces into three groups: studied targets; morphs mistaken for the “target” face; and morphs chosen and known to be incorrect.
Participants easily identified the target faces most of the time. They also spent more time looking at these faces, and did so soon after the 3-face display had been presented. “The really interesting finding is that before they chose a face and pressed a button, there was disproportionate viewing of the target faces as compared to either type of selected face,” said Hannula. However, “after the response was made, viewing tended to mimic the behavioral endorsement of a face as studied or not, whether that endorsement was correct or incorrect.” In other words, “pre-response viewing seems to reflect actual experience, and post-response viewing seems to reflect the decision making process and whether or not the face will be endorsed as studied.”
Hannula theorizes as to what is happening: “Early disproportionate viewing of the target face may precede and help give rise to awareness that a particular face has been studied. Subsequently, we begin to think about the choice that we’re making”—we look closely, compare and weigh the options—“these cognitive processes permit us to make a decision, but may also lead us down the wrong path. In this case, leading us to endorse a face as studied despite having never seen it before.”
Aside from the potential for practical application, says Hannula, eye movement methods could be used to examine memory in individuals—like some psychiatric patients and children – who may have trouble communicating what it is that they remember. “Eye movements might provide us with more information about what exactly these individuals remember than behavioral reports alone.”
For more information about this study, please contact: Deborah Hannula at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The APS journal Psychological Science is the highest ranked empirical journal in psychology. For a copy of the article "The Eyes Know: Eye Movements as a Veridical Index of Prior Exposure" and access to other Psychological Science research findings, please contact Divya Menon at 202-293-9300 or email@example.com
Divya Menon | EurekAlert!
New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)
Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology
The world's highest gain high power laser amplifier - by many orders of magnitude - has been developed in research led at the University of Strathclyde.
The researchers demonstrated the feasibility of using plasma to amplify short laser pulses of picojoule-level energy up to 100 millijoules, which is a 'gain'...
Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
29.05.2017 | Earth Sciences
29.05.2017 | Life Sciences
29.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy