Pictures and spoken descriptions elicit similar eye movements during mental imagery, both in light and in complete darkness

  • Johansson R
  • Holsanova J
  • Holmqvist K
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Abstract

This study provides evidence that eye movements reflect the positions of objects while participants listen to a spoken description, retell a previously heard spoken description, and describe a previously seen picture. This effect is equally strong in retelling from memory, irrespective of whether the original elicitation was spoken or visual. In addition, this effect occurs both while watching a blank white board and while sitting in complete darkness. This study includes 4 experiments. The first 2 experiments measured eye movements of participants looking at a blank white board. Experiment 1 monitors eye movements of participants on 2 occasions: first, when participants listened to a prerecorded spoken scene description; second, when participants were later retelling it from memory. Experiment 2 first monitored eye movements of participants as they studied a complex picture visually, and then later as they described it from memory. The second pair of experiments (Experiments 3 and 4) replicated Experiments 1 and 2 with the only difference being that they were executed in complete darkness. This method of analysis differentiated between eye movements that are categorically correct relative to the positions of the whole eye gaze pattern (global correspondence) and eye movements that are only locally correct (local correspondence). The discussion relates the findings to the current debate on mental imagery.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Attention
  • Darkness
  • Eye movements
  • Imagery
  • Light
  • Perception
  • Visual and verbal elicitation
  • Visual deixis

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