Since my NLP training I have been fascinated by eye movements.
I have noticed some people in particular search with their eyes for memories, associations or for connections when you ask them questions. I worked with such a client recently and the tiny eye movements were predictable … left, left, left, right, right, right, up, down. Then, left, left, left, right, right, right, up, down. A repeating pattern, as if searching for something.
The other day I read an article on the BBC website about sleep and REM research. The study has followed the neurological activity of sleeping Epilepsy patients for four years.
The lead doctor, Dr Nir, describes how when the patients were awake and shown a picture, especially one associated with a memory, the researchers saw a particular pattern of brain activity. “The activity of these neurons doesn’t reflect image processing. It’s more about signalling to the brain about a refresh of the mental imagery and the associations or related concepts.” says the report.
“…about 0.3 seconds after the picture appears, these neurons burst – they become vigorously active…”
It seems the same brain activity occurs during REM as when you simply close your eyes and imagine a picture or think of related concepts. Almost as if the brain is using the eye movements to aid filing memories or searching for existing memories or concepts with which to associate the new ones.
I am fascinated by the possibility that we do this when fully awake too. When asked a question or asked to think we search using our eyes for stored associations, memories and understanding with which to answer. In some people these eye movements are more noticeable, as with some of my clients.
NLP refers to these as eye accessing cues.
Neuroscience presents the most exciting possibilities for new discovery about the way we work and, I for one, look forward to the next ten years and discovering more.
Meanwhile, be curious about eye movements. Those little flicks left and right have significance far beyond out current awareness.