The Role of Eye Movement in Memory Recall

Meditation, brain training, low-calorie dietthere are various tried-and-tested methods dedicated to enhancing one’s sense of recollection. However, there’s a simpler way to improve your memory.


Eye movement is a great tool in racking up your brains. But what job does it play in the process of remembering? 


The Eyes’ Role in Memory Formation

Eyes are crucial in the creation of memories because they are largely responsible for capturing a great chunk of information that gets cached in the brain. 


The low energy required to function allows our eyes to move 20,000 times a day. This simple activity paves the way for multiple cognitive processes to take place, and this includes storing and retrieving information. 


The brain passively collects data through bodily senses, primarily through visual cues, in what is called the sensory stage. Important data will then be stored in short-term memory. Frequently accessed information in short-term memory then gets permanently cached in long-term memory, which hs a bigger capacity than short-term memory.


Three factors commonly cause the difficulty experienced in retrieving memories: the data was not encoded properly during the sensory stage, the stored information is not being regularly accessed, or there is a confusion in the retrieval cues of the brain.

When recollection becomes challenging, this is when the eyes become a helpful agent. How does eye movement enhance your memory?

Eye Movement in Stimulating Brain Activity

The simple horizontal movement of the eyes can improve how you retrieve information.

A study conducted by researchers at Manchester Metropolitan University showed that subjects who performed side-to-side eye movement improved their ability to recall information by 10%. They showed a better performance than those who used vertical eye movements and no eye movements in the process of recollection. 

Psychologist Stephen Christman explored this area of study. According to him, the movement of the eyes allows a fluid interaction between the two hemispheres of the brain. The activity in the left cognitive part stimulates the movement in the right cognitive area, enhancing the overall function of the brain in memory retrieval.

Another research conducted at the Rotman Research Institute discovered that the eyes follow patterns of movements in the process of recollection.

The person’s eye movement upon seeing an object is similar to the eye movement performed when trying to recall it.

The brain uses the pattern created by the eyes as a tool in remembering. It uses this familiar pattern to recognize and access stored information quickly. 

This can also be tied up to the process of pattern completion, where the brain makes use of cognitive recordings from bodily senses to construct memory. The brain tends only to pick out distinct characteristics when gazing at an image, so when similar traits come into view at the sensory stage once again, it instantly identifies the two images as one and the same. However, it goes without saying that pattern completion is prone to mistakes and misinterpretation. 

Nonetheless, looking into the patterns of eye movement will yield a better understanding of how memories work. In fact, eye tracking is being utilized to better understand cognitive functions in humans.

Eye Movement in Understanding the Mind

Remembering is a form of revisiting spatial locations in your brain. That’s why eye monitoring is a form of studying a road map of the brain. 

Several researchers are integrating eye tracking with brain imaging in their scholarly pursuits because of the proven correlation between visual stimulation and neural activity.

In fact, eye tracking is currently being utilized in predicting memory lapses. Comparing patterns of eye movement can reveal inaccuracies in the recollection process of a person. A deviation from the original eye movement already reveals a failure in precisely constructing a mental representation of a memory. Because of this, eye tracking is also being considered as a tool for predicting neurodegenerative diseases.


Eye movement is also now being employed in psychotherapy. Currently, several clinics offer services that make use of Eye Movement and Desensitization Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR) therapy to remedy mental health issues, specifically post-traumatic stress disorder. This can reduce patients’ distress by heightening their focus and inducing negative memories while directing their eye movement. EMDR has been proven effective, reducing symptoms of people with mental concerns.

Your eyes are more than a window to your soul. Indeed, eye movement plays a significant role in both the formation and retrieval of memories. And with the growing evidence of its impact on neural activity, there are more opportunities for humans to understand, correct, and improve humans’ cognitive functions. 

Meta title: Kick-start Your Memory Through Eye Movements

Meta description: There are various ways to boost your memory. But did you know that simple eye movement can strengthen your sense of recollection?