Eye Movements and Serial Memory for Visual-Spatial Information
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This research investigated the nature of encoding and its contribution to serial recall for visual-spatial information. In order to do so, we examined the relationship between fixation duration and recall performance. Using the dot task--a series of seven dots spatially distributed on a monitor screen is presented sequentially for immediate recall--performance and eye-tracking data were recorded during the presentation of the to-be-remembered items. When participants were free to move their eyes at their will, both fixation durations and probability of correct recall decreased as a function of serial position. Furthermore, imposing constant durations of fixation across all serial positions had a beneficial impact (though relatively small) on item but not order recall. Great care was taken to isolate the effect of fixation duration from that of presentation duration. Although eye movement at encoding contributes to immediate memory, it is not decisive in shaping serial recall performance. Our results also provide further evidence that the distinction between item and order information, well-established in the verbal domain, extends to visual-spatial information.
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