Skip to main content
Dryad logo

Data from: Human gaze tracks attentional focusing in memorised visual space


van Ede, Freek; Chekroud, Sammi R.; Nobre, Anna C. (2019), Data from: Human gaze tracks attentional focusing in memorised visual space, Dryad, Dataset,


Brain areas that control gaze are also recruited for covert shifts of spatial attention (1-9). In the external space of perception, there is a natural, ecological link between the control of gaze and of spatial attention, since information sampled at covertly attended locations can inform where to look next (2,10,11). Attention can also be directed internally to representations held within the spatial layout of visual working memory (12-16). In such cases, the incentive for using attention to direct gaze disappears since there are no external targets to scan. Here we investigate whether the brain’s oculomotor system also participates in attention within the internal space of memory. Paradoxically, we reveal this participation through gaze behaviour itself. We demonstrate that selecting an item from visual working memory biases gaze in the direction of the memorised location of that item – despite there being nothing to look at and even though location memory was never explicitly probed. This retrospective ‘gaze bias’ occurs only when an item is not already in the internal focus of attention, and predicts the performance benefit associated with the focusing of internal attention. We conclude that the oculomotor system also participates in the focusing of attention within memorised space, leaving traces all the way to the eyes.

Usage Notes