Eye movements support memory encoding by binding distinct elements of the visual world into coherent representations. However, the role of eye movements in memory retrieval is less clear. We propose that eye movements play a functional role in retrieval by reinstating the encoding context. By overtly shifting attention in a manner that broadly recapitulates the spatial locations and temporal order of encoded content, eye movements facilitate access to, and reactivation of, associated details. Such mnemonic gaze reinstatement may be obligatorily recruited when task demands exceed cognitive resources, as is often observed in older adults. We review research linking gaze reinstatement to retrieval, describe the neural integration between the oculomotor and memory systems, and discuss implications for models of oculomotor control, memory, and aging.
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