Worth a glance: Using eye movements to investigate the cognitive neuroscience of memory

Deborah E. Hannula, Robert R. Althoff, David E. Warren, Lily Riggs, Neal J. Cohen, Jennifer D. Ryan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Results of several investigations indicate that eye movements can reveal memory for elements of previous experience. These effects of memory on eye movement behavior can emerge very rapidly, changing the efficiency and even the nature of visual processing without appealing to verbal reports and without requiring conscious recollection. This aspect of eye movement based memory investigations is particularly useful when eye movement methods are used with special populations (e.g., young children, elderly individuals, and patients with severe amnesia), and also permits use of comparable paradigms in animals and humans, helping to bridge different memory literatures and permitting cross-species generalizations. Unique characteristics of eye movement methods have produced findings that challenge long-held views about the nature of memory, its organization in the brain, and its failures in special populations. Recently, eye movement methods have been successfully combined with neuroimaging techniques such as fMRI, single-unit recording, and magnetoencephalography, permitting more sophisticated investigations of memory. Ultimately, combined use of eye-tracking with neuropsychological and neuroimaging methods promises to provide a more comprehensive account of brain-behavior relationships and adheres to the "converging evidence" approach to cognitive neuroscience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
StatePublished - 2010


  • Amnesia
  • Eye movements
  • Hippocampus
  • MEG
  • Memory
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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