Friday, October 16, 2009

Eye Memory

A new study published in the journal Neuron suggests that eye movements pick the right answers in memory tests, even when the brain doesn't.

Apparently, eye movements correspond to activity in the hippocampus, one of the most important learning and memory centers in the brain. Eye movements are now suggested to reveal unconscious memories.

Two researchers showed volunteers in a functional MRI scanner pictures of 3 faces paired with 50 photos of outdoor scenes. The volunteers were then asked to choose which face had been matched with which landscape scene.   When the scene was shown, activity in the hippocampus increased, followed 500 to 750 milliseconds later by eye movements directed toward the correct face, even if the volunteer had clearly chosen a different face.

Eye movements may become a new way of helping scientists understand how much people who are unable to talk and patients with dementia or schizophrenia remember.  People with these disorders may remember far more than they are able to say.   

Bottom line: keep your eyes and brain healthy.