Eye movements reveal solution knowledge prior to insight

Consciousness and Cognition 20 (3):768-776 (2011)
In two experiments, participants solved anagram problems while their eye movements were monitored. Each problem consisted of a circular array of five letters: a scrambled four-letter solution word containing three consonants and one vowel, and an additional randomly-placed distractor consonant. Viewing times on the distractor consonant compared to the solution consonants provided an online measure of knowledge of the solution. Viewing times on the distractor consonant and the solution consonants were indistinguishable early in the trial. In contrast, several seconds prior to the response, viewing times on the distractor consonant decreased in a gradual manner compared to viewing times on the solution consonants. Importantly, this pattern was obtained across both trials in which participants reported the subjective experience of insight and trials in which they did not. These findings are consistent with the availability of partial knowledge of the solution prior to such information being accessible to subjective phenomenal awareness
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DOI 10.1016/j.concog.2010.12.007
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