Eye movements and the integration of visual memory and visual perception

Percept Psychophys. 2005 Apr;67(3):495-512. doi: 10.3758/bf03193327.


Because visual perception has temporal extent, temporally discontinuous input must be linked in memory. Recent research has suggested that this may be accomplished by integrating the active contents of visual short-term memory (VSTM) with subsequently perceived information. In the present experiments, we explored the relationship between VSTM consolidation and maintenance and eye movements, in order to discover how attention selects the information that is to be integrated. Specifically, we addressed whether stimuli needed to be overtly attended in order to be included in the memory representation or whether covert attention was sufficient. Results demonstrated that in static displays in which the to-be-integrated information was presented in the same spatial location, VSTM consolidation proceeded independently of the eyes, since subjects made few eye movements. In dynamic displays, however, in which the to-be-integrated information was presented in different spatial locations, eye movements were directly related to task performance. We conclude that these differences are related to different encoding strategies. In the static display case, VSTM was maintained in the same spatial location as that in which it was generated. This could apparently be accomplished with covert deployments of attention. In the dynamic case, however, VSTM was generated in a location that did not overlap with one of the to-be-integrated percepts. In order to "move" the memory trace, overt shifts of attention were required.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Eye Movements*
  • Fixation, Ocular
  • Humans
  • Memory*
  • Time Factors
  • Visual Perception*