Eye vergence responses during a visual memory task

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Abstract

In a previous report it was shown that covertly attending visual stimuli produce small convergence of the eyes, and that visual stimuli can give rise to different modulations of the angle of eye vergence, depending on their power to capture attention. Working memory is highly dependent on attention. Therefore, in this study we assessed vergence responses in a memory task. Participants scanned a set of 8 or 12 images for 10 s, and thereafter were presented with a series of single images. One half were repeat images – that is, they belonged to the initial set – and the other half were novel images. Participants were asked to indicate whether or not the images were included in the initial image set. We observed that eyes converge during scanning the set of images and during the presentation of the single images. The convergence was stronger for remembered images compared with the vergence for nonremembered images. Modulation in pupil size did not correspond to behavioural responses. The correspondence between vergence and coding/retrieval processes of memory strengthen the idea of a role for vergence in attention processing of visual information.

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