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Why do people move their eyes when they think
Have you ever wondered why people move their eyes frequently when they think? This phenomenon is constantly drawing attention of people interested in understanding deep nuances of human psychology. Various studies have been done on this subject and some interesting results have also come out.
In a recent edition of journal Current Directions in Psychological Science two scientists, Howard Ehrlichman and Dragana Micic, have tried to explore the reason behind the same. Generally it is believed that people try to look away from the distracters while thinking something and retrieve information from their memory. The scientists have gone a step ahead in their explanation and have mentioned that the “shift of gaze occurs to free up cognitive resources, especially when people need to think more deeply about what they are saying and are experiencing high cognitive load.”
The duo states that people look away while thinking even when they are alone or they are standing in darkness or they have closed their eyes.
Before this path breaking research, it was believed that rightward movement of the eyes (which are linked with the left hemisphere of the brain) occurred when a question required verbal thinking, whereas left side shifts (linked with right hemisphere of the brain) happened when a question demanded visual imagery. Somehow, these results were not consistent in all cases.
While it is true that eye movement is linked with thinking process, but one must remember that it has very little functional value. It implies that if you will ask people to move their eyes while thinking will not make them think better or, similarly, when you will ask them not to move their eyes will not make them think worse.
The scientists believe that the eye movement and thinking seem to share same circuits between various parts of brain and eye.