Eye Wiggling Benefits Memory

In my Ignite Phoenix talk, "The Eyes Have It," I discussed a study by Lyle, Logan, and Roediger (2008) wherein strongly right-handed participants who wiggled their eyes from side to side demonstrated better recall for a memorized word list than those who didn't move their eyes. The authors suggested that lateral eye movements increased hemispheric cross-talk (which is usually lacking in strong right-handers), leading to deeper, richer encoding. Another study has just come out in the journal Brain and Cognition that provides further support for this assertion, this time employing a source monitoring paradigm.

Parker, Buckley, and Dagnall (2009) showed participants a series of pictures accompanied by a narrative. They followed this up by asking them a number of misleading questions about the specifics of the story. Participants were then directed to move their eyes either laterally, vertically, or not at all. The authors found that lateral eye movements led to better memory for the contents of the pictures and narrative. In addition, participants who moved their eyes from side to side were less apt to adopt the misinformation elements into their recollections.



Lyle, K. B., Logan, J. M., & Roediger III, H. L. (2008). Eye movements enhance memory for individuals who are strongly right-handed and harm it for individuals who are not. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 15, 515-520. Link

Parker, A., Buckley, S., & Dagnall, N. (2009). Reduced misinformation effects following saccadic bilateral eye movements. Brain and Cognition, 69, 89-97. Link


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