A new look at memory reinstatement

Over the past couple of years, the MemoLab has been working a new line of research using eye tracking to measure memory reinstatement. This work has been spearheaded by recent PhD Dr. Paula Brooks, who just shared her first preprint using the method. We found that gaze reinstatement is linked to memory for both the item and background components of a scene, and that it’s similar for both emotionally negative and neutral memories - suggesting that the processes supporting gaze reinstatement are independent of those that prioritize emotional item information in memory.

We have also released a new preprint that digs deeper into what cognitive factors guide gaze reinstatement. This project was led by recent BC grads Tingwei (Jerry) Hu and Hae Young Yi, who completed the study as part of their senior honors thesis projects. I’m amazed at how much they learned and accomplished over the past year, and I’m excited to share their results with the world. In brief, they found that gaze reinstatement is guided by attention to visual details, and it appears to be less sensitive to their spatial configuration or the exact eye movements needed to sample them. These results will help us better understand the mechanisms underlying gaze reinstatement and the role it plays in memory retrieval.