, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 515-520

Eye movements enhance memory for individuals who are strongly right-handed and harm it for individuals who are not

Abstract

Subjects who make repetitive saccadic eye movements before a memory test subsequently exhibit superior retrieval in comparison with subjects who do not move their eyes. It has been proposed that eye movements enhance retrieval by increasing interaction of the left and right cerebral hemispheres. To test this, we compared the effect of eye movements on subsequent recall (Experiment 1) and recognition (Experiment 2) in two groups thought to differ in baseline degree of hemispheric interaction—individuals who are strongly right-handed (SR) and individuals who are not (nSR). For SR subjects, who naturally may experience less hemispheric interaction than nSR subjects, eye movements enhanced retrieval. In contrast, depending on the measure, eye movements were either inconsequential or even detrimental for nSR subjects. These results partially support the hemispheric interaction account, but demand an amendment to explain the harmful effects of eye movements for nSR individuals.

Results of this study were presented in part at the Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society (Houston, November 2006).