Temporal context guides visual exploration during scene recognition.

James E. Kragel*, Joel L. Voss

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Memories for episodes are temporally structured. Cognitive models derived from list-learning experiments attribute this structure to the retrieval of temporal context information that indicates when a memory occurred. These models predict key features of memory recall, such as the strong tendency to retrieve studied items in the order in which they were first encountered. Can such models explain ecological memory behaviors, such as eye movements during encoding and retrieval of complex visual stimuli? We tested predictions from retrieved-context models using three data sets involving recognition memory and free viewing of complex scenes. Subjects reinstated sequences of eye movements from one scene-viewing episode to the next. Moreover, sequence reinstatement decayed over time and was associated with successful memory. We observed memory-driven reinstatement even after accounting for intrinsic scene properties that produced consistent eye movements. These findings confirm predictions of retrieved-context models, suggesting retrieval of temporal context influences complex behaviors generated during naturalistic memory experiences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)873-889
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021


  • context reinstatement
  • episodic memory
  • eye movements
  • memory-guided exploration
  • visual attention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Psychology(all)
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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