Trade-offs Between Gaze and Working Memory Use
AbstractEye movements during natural tasks suggest that observers do not use working memory to capacity but instead use eye movements to acquire relevant information immediately before needed. Results here however, show that this strategy is sensitive to memory load and to observers' expectations about what information will be relevant. Depending upon the predictability of what object features would be needed in a brick sorting task, subjects spontaneously modulated the order in which they sampled and stored visual information using working memory more when the task was predictable and reverting to a just-in-time strategy when the task was unpredictable and the memory load was higher. This self organization was evidenced by subjects' sequence of eye movements and also their sorting decisions following missed feature changes. These results reveal that attentional selection, fixations, and use of working memory reflect a dynamic optimization with respect to a set of constraints, such as task predictablity and memory load. They also reveal that change blindness depends critically on the local task context, by virtue of its influence on the information selected for storage in working memory.