Gaze direction. 1. An acronym for "conjugate lateral eye movement." 2. A nonverbal response, often to a verbal question, in which the eyes move sideward (to the right or left) in tandem.
Usage: CLEMs--involuntary eye movements to the right or left--signal information processing, reflection, and thought. Because they reflect unvoiced doubt, as well, CLEMs may used as probing points.
Saccades. In a classic study by Harnad (1972) of the lateral eye movements of mathematicians during mental reflection, it was noted that rightward movement associated with symbolic thinking, while leftward movement associated with visual thinking. Left-movers were thought to be more creative.
RESEARCH REPORTS: 1. Conjugate lateral eye movements are an index of brain-hemispheric activation (Gur 1975). 2 "People can be categorized as either 'right lookers' or 'left lookers' because approximately 75 percent of an individual's conjugatelateral eye movements are in one direction" (Richmond et al. 1991:89). 2. "CLEM is usually quite prominent when someone is working on a task that requires them [sic] to think or reflect" (Richmond et al. 1991:89).
E-Commentary: "Love your site. I found it while trying to find out why my sister-in-law will occasionally start talking and will look up into the corner. My aunt use to do the same thing, and it drove me crazy. The position is: head level or slightly elevated; facing the person they are talking to; the eyes look up to the ceiling 45 degrees to left or right of the person that they are talking to. Sometimes the entire time they talk, they will keep the same eye position. Thanks for all the wonderful information." --Ron (6/22/01 7:53:42 PM Pacific Daylight Time)
Drawing of "Me, Being Nonverbal" by son Aaron H. Huffman (copyright 2012 by Aaron H. Huffman)