Source memory revealed through eye movements and pupil dilation

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Current theoretical debate, crossing the bounds of memory theory and mental imagery, surrounds the role of eye movements in successful encoding and retrieval. Although the eyes have been shown to

Current theoretical debate, crossing the bounds of memory theory and mental imagery, surrounds the role of eye movements in successful encoding and retrieval. Although the eyes have been shown to revisit previously-viewed locations during retrieval, the functional role of these saccades is not known. Understanding the potential role of eye movements may help address classic questions in recognition memory. Specifically, are episodic traces rich and detailed, characterized by a single strength-driven recognition process, or are they better described by two separate processes, one for vague information and one for the retrieval of detail? Three experiments are reported, in which participants encoded audio-visual information while completing controlled patterns of eye movements. By presenting information in four sources (i.e., voices), assessments of specific and partial source memory were measured at retrieval. Across experiments, participants' eye movements at test were manipulated. Experiment 1 allowed free viewing, Experiment 2 required externally-cued fixations to previously-relevant (or irrelevant) screen locations, and Experiment 3 required externally-cued new or familiar oculomotor patterns to multiple screen locations in succession. Although eye movements were spontaneously reinstated when gaze was unconstrained during retrieval (Experiment 1), externally-cueing participants to re-engage in fixations or oculomotor patterns from encoding (Experiments 2 and 3) did not enhance retrieval. Across all experiments, participants' memories were well-described by signal-detection models of memory. Source retrieval was characterized by a continuous process, with evidence that source retrieval occurred following item memory failures, and additional evidence that participants partially recollected source, in the absence of specific item retrieval. Pupillometry provided an unbiased metric by which to compute receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves, which were consistently curvilinear (but linear in z-space), supporting signal-detection predictions over those from dual-process theories. Implications for theoretical views of memory representations are discussed.