9.25.2007

How Eye Motion Impacts Cognitive Processes
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Scientists assert that guiding eye movements impacts how people think.


What if our thoughts were actually controlled by our eyes?

By occasionally guiding the eye movements of participants with a tracking task unrelated to a primary investigative problem in a recent study, researchers boosted their chances of problem-solving success. Stimulated groups outperformed the control group at solving the defined problem, demonstrating that "it is now clear that eye movements reflect what we are thinking, and they can also influence how we think," said researcher Laura Thomas.

In addition to providing insights into problem-solving, the results have implications for how psychologists think about cognition.

"Earlier researchers found a link between eye movements and problem solving, but they could not directly show that the former can precede or affect the latter," Thomas added.

"They couldn't go further than saying cognition affects eye movement pattern. They're very close to it but they cannot argue more than that. We went a step further and said eye movements are actually influencing cognition and this is the way to prove it."

Just thinking about a task apparently activates structures in the brain normally associated with completing a task. So it could be that there is a matrix after all.

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