The mind’s eye in episodic memory: Looking at things that are no longer there

“Looking-at-nothing” (LAN) describes the behaviour that people look at empty spatial locations when retrieving information from memory that has been associated with a spatial location during encoding. For instance, when telling someone about something written on a whiteboard, one likely looks at or even points toward the whiteboard that contained the information, even if it has since been cleaned and is now empty. Besides a remarkable robustness of the behaviour the underlying processes are not well understood. To this end, we aim to understand, what we can learn about memory from studying eye movements. In behavioural laboratory experiments, we test when LAN occurs (and when not), whether shifts of attention elicit LAN and cause its observed functionality for memory retrieval. Furthermore, we aim to test if LAN is under strategic control.

Funding Agency: Siss National Science Foundation
Funding Period: 2021-2025
Amount: 911.146 CHF
Location: Cognitive Psychology Unit, University of Zurich, Switzerland