The interplay of eye movements and long-term memory: Using a novel combination of eye tracking and complex span tasks to reveal how eye movements draw on long-term memory

Lörch, Lucas

Document Type: Conference presentation
Year of publication: 2019
Conference title: 20th European Conference on Eye Movements, ECEM 2019
Location of the conference venue: Alicante, Spain
Date of the conference: 18.-22.8.2019
Publication language: English
Institution: School of Social Sciences > Bildungspsychologie (Münzer 2012-)
Subject: 150 Psychology
Individual keywords (German): Augenbewegungen , Expertise , Arbeitsgedächtnis , Langzeitgedächtnis
Keywords (English): eye movements , eye tracking , expertise , working memory , long-term memory
Abstract: Studies comparing experts and novices have shown that eye movements during domain-specific visual processing, such as the reading of notated music, are supported by long-term memory (LTM). Accordingly, if long-term memory information that is irrelevant for the visual processing task is activated, LTM support of eye movements is impeded. As a result, the amount of information that can be perceived with a single fixation decreases and the number of fixations increases given limited reading time. I employed a novel combination of the complex span paradigm and eye tracking to test this assumption. Music students (n=75) were asked to memorize one note and then to play an unknown, simple melody on a piano. After twelve repetitions of this procedure, they were asked to recall the memorized notes in correct order. It was varied within participants if successive memory notes formed chords or did not form chords. Eye movements during the musical performance of the melodies were tracked and memory performance was measured with a recall test. When memory notes formed chords, recall accuracy was higher and eye movements showed more fixations. Moreover, the number of fixations increased with each additional note that had to be held in memory. Both the more efficient storage of information when memory notes formed chords and the encoding of additional notes in the course of one trial led to more task-irrelevant activation in LTM. This, in turn, hindered LTM support for the eye movements and led to reading with more fixations.

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