Eye movements “steal” response time effect during imagery scanning


Several behavioral studies have reported functional similarities between visuospatial imagery and visuospatial perception. For instance, in the classic image-scanning paradigm (Finke & Pinker, 1982) participants first inspect a dot pattern, which later disappears and is replaced by an arrow on a blank screen. The task is to judge whether the arrow points towards one of the previous dots. Results commonly show that the response time (RT) increases linearly with the distance between the arrow and the previous dot and has been taken as evidence for a structural equivalence between perception and imagery. Typically eye movements are prevented in this paradigm. In the present study, eye movements were recorded for 23 participants in a free viewing version of the image-scanning paradigm. Results revealed that saccadic amplitudes increased linearly with the “imagined” scanning distance (p < .001). But contrary to previous studies there was no significant effect between RT and scanning distance.

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