The Effects of Eye-Closure and “Ear-Closure” on Recall of Visual and Auditory Aspects of a Criminal Event

Annelies Vredeveldt, Alan D. Baddeley, Graham J. Hitch


Previous research has shown that closing the eyes can facilitate recall of semantic and episodic information. Here, two experiments are presented which investigate the theoretical underpinnings of the eye-closure effect and its auditory equivalent, the “ear-closure” effect. In Experiment 1, participants viewed a violent videotaped event and were subsequently interviewed about the event with eyes open or eyes closed. Eye-closure was found to have modality-general benefits on coarse-grain correct responses, but modality-specific effects on fine-grain correct recall and incorrect recall (increasing the former and decreasing the latter). In Experiment 2, participants viewed the same event and were subsequently interviewed about it, either in quiet conditions or while hearing irrelevant speech. Contrary to expectations, irrelevant speech did not significantly impair recall performance. This null finding might be explained by the absence of social interaction during the interview in Experiment 2. In conclusion, eye-closure seems to involve both general and modality-specific processes. The practical implications of the findings are discussed.


eyewitness memory; eye-closure; ear-closure; cognitive load; modality-specific interference

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