July 6, 2012
New research into the science of the eye reveals reasons our pupils dilate, and why we look up when we try to remember things.
BOB HIRSHON (host):
Seeing into the brain. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.
The pupils of the eye dilate, or grow wide, in darkness and constrict in bright light. But scientists are finding that pupils react to other things, too. Arizona State University researcher Steve Goldinger has found that pupils change when someone gives up on a task, when they’re storing something in their memory, and when they see something they’ve seen before—even if they don’t consciously remember it. The research could help in the treatment of people with amnesia and in early diagnosis of learning disorders.
In other eye research, scientists at City University of New York wanted to know why we look up when we’re trying to remember something. They had volunteers recall memories while looking straight ahead or wherever they wanted. The result? No difference, suggesting that while the activity may have evolved for a purpose, it’s no longer needed. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.