, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 663-668

Moving eyes and moving thought: On the spatial compatibility between eye movements and cognition

Abstract

Grant and Spivey (2003) proposed that eye movement trajectories can influence spatial reasoning by way of an implicit eye-movement-to-cognition link. We tested this proposal and investigated the nature of this link by continuously monitoring eye movements and asking participants to perform a problem-solving task under free-viewing conditions while occasionally guiding their eye movements (via an unrelated tracking task), either in a pattern related to the problem’s solution or in unrelated patterns. Although participants reported that they were not aware of any relationship between the tracking task and the problem, those who moved their eyes in a pattern related to the problem’s solution were the most successful problem solvers. Our results support the existence of an implicit compatibility between spatial cognition and the eye movement patterns that people use to examine a scene.