Abstract

Mounting evidence linking gaze reinstatement—the recapitulation of encoding-related gaze patterns during retrieval—to behavioral measures of memory suggests that eye movements play an important role in mnemonic processing. Yet, the nature of the gaze scanpath, including its informational content and neural correlates, has remained in question. In this study, we examined eye movement and neural data from a recognition memory task to further elucidate the behavioral and neural bases of functional gaze reinstatement. Consistent with previous work, gaze reinstatement during retrieval of freely viewed scene images was greater than chance and predictive of recognition memory performance. Gaze reinstatement was also associated with viewing of informationally salient image regions at encoding, suggesting that scanpaths may encode and contain high-level scene content. At the brain level, gaze reinstatement was predicted by encoding-related activity in the occipital pole and BG, neural regions associated with visual processing and oculomotor control. Finally, cross-voxel brain pattern similarity analysis revealed overlapping subsequent memory and subsequent gaze reinstatement modulation effects in the parahippocampal place area and hippocampus, in addition to the occipital pole and BG. Together, these findings suggest that encoding-related activity in brain regions associated with scene processing, oculomotor control, and memory supports the formation, and subsequent recapitulation, of functional scanpaths. More broadly, these findings lend support to scanpath theory's assertion that eye movements both encode, and are themselves embedded in, mnemonic representations.

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Author notes

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Equal contribution.