Eye fixations and memory for emotional events

J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 1991 Jul;17(4):693-701. doi: 10.1037//0278-7393.17.4.693.


Subjects watched either an emotional, neutral, or unusual sequence of slides containing 1 critical slide in the middle. Experiments 1 and 2 allowed only a single eye fixation on the critical slide by presenting it for 180 ms (Experiment 1) or 150 ms (Experiment 2). Despite this constraint, memory for a central detail was better for the emotional condition. In Experiment 3, subjects were allowed 2.70 s to view the critical slide while their eye movements were monitored. When subjects who had devoted the same number of fixations were compared, memory for the central detail of the emotional slide was again better. The results suggest that enhanced memory for detail information of an emotional event does not occur solely because more attention is devoted to the emotional information.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arousal
  • Color Perception
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Fixation, Ocular*
  • Humans
  • Imagination
  • Male
  • Mental Recall*
  • Retention, Psychology
  • Visual Perception*