Why Do People’s Eyes Move Side to Side When Talking?

Looking into someone's eyes when they're speaking is an important part of communication and can reveal a lot about a person's emotions and intentions. However, some individuals may exhibit a unique eye movement known as nystagmus, where the eyes move rapidly from side to side in a rhythmic pattern, which can be distracting and disorienting to the person they’re speaking to. This condition is caused by a miscommunication between the eye and the brain and is typically a result of brain injuries. Referred to as "dancing eyes" due to it’s repetitive movement, nystagmus remains a fascinating area of study for medical experts and has shed light on the complex relationship between the eye and the brain.

What Does It Mean When Someone Eyes Moves While Talking?

Additionally, eye movements while speaking can also reflect a persons level of focus and engagement in the conversation. If someones eyes are constantly darting around, it may suggest they’re distracted or not fully present in the moment. Conversely, if someone maintains strong eye contact and minimal eye movements, it may suggest they’re fully engaged and listening attentively.

It’s also worth noting that certain eye movements can be indicative of deception or anxiety. For example, if someone is lying or feeling anxious during a conversation, they may tend to avoid eye contact or look away frequently. This could be attributed to a subconscious desire to hide or deflect attention away from their emotions or thoughts.

It’s important to pay attention to these nonverbal cues in order to better understand and communicate with those around us. By doing so, we can develop more meaningful and effective relationships with others.

The Role of Eye Movements in Public Speaking and Presentations

  • Eye movements can help to engage the audience and convey confidence and authenticity.
  • Eye contact is an important aspect of public speaking and can help to establish trust and credibility with the audience.
  • Effective use of eye movements can also help to emphasize key points and maintain audience attention.
  • However, overuse of eye movements or lack of eye contact can detract from the speaker’s message and undermine their credibility.

The way we move our eyes can have a significant impact on how our brains process information. In particular, horizontal eye movements have been shown to facilitate communication between the two hemispheres of the brain, which is important for certain types of memory retrieval. Let’s explore this fascinating phenomenon further.

What Does Moving Your Eyes Side to Side Do?

The act of moving our eyes side to side isn’t just a simple physical action but rather an intricate brain activity that’s crucial to our mental processes. Research has shown that horizontal eye movements can have a significant impact on memory retrieval, and are thought to stimulate connections between the brain hemispheres that facilitate this process.

The brain is divided into two hemispheres, each responsible for different cognitive functions. The left hemisphere is associated with logical thinking, language, and analytical processes, while the right hemisphere is responsible for creativity, intuition, and emotional processing. When we move our eyes horizontally, information is transmitted between the hemispheres, allowing for greater communication and cooperation between them.

This communication between brain hemispheres is particularly important for certain types of memory retrieval. For example, when we remember a face, we use the right hemisphere to recognize it’s visual features. However, we also use the left hemisphere to recall the name associated with that face. The ability to quickly and efficiently communicate between brain hemispheres is crucial for this process.

There are several techniques that use horizontal eye movements to tap into this neural communication process. One such technique is called EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing), which is used for the treatment of trauma and other psychological conditions. By moving the eyes side to side, EMDR stimulates the brains natural ability to process and reprocess emotional information and memories.

Understanding the intricacies of this neural process can help us better understand the brain and it’s many functions, and may even lead to new therapeutic techniques for psychological conditions.

Other Techniques That Use Eye Movements for Cognitive and Emotional Processing, Such as the Eye Movement Integration (EMI) Technique

  • Eye Movement Integration (EMI) technique
  • Rapid Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) technique
  • Eye Movement Memory Enhancement (EMME) technique
  • Scanning Hypothesis technique
  • Eye Movement Directional Stimulation (EMDS) technique

Source: Moving Your Eyes Improves Memory, Study Suggests

Our eyes are constantly on the move, even when we don’t realize it. But did you know that these movements can actually provide valuable insights into our cognitive processes and emotional states? From tracking where we look to measuring the speed and accuracy of our gaze, eye-tracking technology has become an increasingly popular tool for researchers and professionals across a wide range of fields. Read on to discover some of the fascinating ways in which eye movements can be used to better understand the workings of the human mind.

What Can Eye Movement Tell You?

Eye movement can also provide important insights into cognitive processes such as attention, memory, and decision-making. For instance, studies have shown that eye movements can be used to predict a persons preference or decision in a variety of tasks, including choosing between different consumer products or deciding whether to take a specific action (Biele et al., 2013; Krajbich et al., 2012). In addition, eye movements have been used as a diagnostic tool for various neurological and psychiatric disorders such as Alzheimers disease, autism spectrum disorder, and schizophrenia (Anticevic, 2016; Spreng et al., 2010).

Eye movements are also intimately connected to language processing. When reading, for instance, our eyes move in small and rapid jumps called saccades, and we spend most of the time fixating on specific words or phrases (Rayner, 1998). By tracking these eye movements, researchers can uncover how people process written language, including how they allocate attention to different words, how they extract meaning from sentences, and even how they predict upcoming words (Kutas & Federmeier, 2011). Eye movements can also be used to study spoken language, as listeners eyes move to focus on the person who’s speaking or to look at objects being described (Altmann & Kamide, 1999).

In addition to their usefulness in research, eye movements can also provide clues about everyday behavior and motives. For example, sustained eye contact can signal interest or attraction, while avoiding eye contact can suggest discomfort or deception (Bull, 1987). Blink rate and pupil dilation can also reveal a persons emotional state, with increased blink rate associated with anxiety or stress, and changes in pupil size linked to arousal or mental effort (Bradley et al., 2008).

Finally, eye movements have practical applications in fields such as education, marketing, and sports training. By understanding how learners attend to visual information, educators can design more effective instructional materials and strategies (Reiner & Willingham, 2010). In marketing, eye tracking studies can help companies identify the most eye-catching parts of their advertisements and improve brand recognition (Schenk & Atchison, 2015). And in sports, eye movement training can enhance a players ability to predict and react to fast-moving objects, such as a tennis ball or a soccer ball (Mann et al., 2007).

When it comes to eye movements during conversation, there’s another phenomenon at play that’s not related to nystagmus. Some people may have a tendency to dart their eyes back and forth while speaking, and this behavior can have various interpretations depending on the context and individual. Let’s explore more about what this eye movement behavior may signify.

What Does It Mean When Someone’s Eyes Dart Back Forth When Talking?

Nystagmus can also be caused by the consumption of certain drugs, medications, and neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis. People with this condition may experience vision disturbances, such as blurry or double vision, and difficulty focusing on objects. Nystagmus can also cause balance problems and dizziness, which can impact daily activities such as driving.

When someones eyes dart back and forth when talking, it may not necessarily be a sign of nystagmus. Often, this can be a sign of nervousness or discomfort and is a physiological response to anxiety. In such cases, the eye movements can be a way of avoiding direct eye contact, or an attempt to distract the other person from noticing their discomfort. It can be helpful to offer reassurance and allow the person to take their time while speaking.

There are other reasons why someones eyes may dart back and forth when talking. For example, they may be trying to recall information or searching for the right words to use. It can also be a sign of disinterest or boredom, as their attention shifts to other things in the environment. It’s important to pay attention to other nonverbal cues such as facial expressions and body language to better understand the persons emotions and intentions.

When diagnosing nystagmus, an eye examination is typically performed by an ophthalmologist or optometrist. Treatment options can vary depending on the underlying cause and severity of the condition. In some cases, glasses or contact lenses may be prescribed to improve visual acuity. In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to correct the underlying issue or alleviate symptoms.

How to Differentiate Between Nystagmus and Other Eye Movements During Conversations

  • Observe the person’s eye movements during conversation
  • Look for repetitive, involuntary eye movements
  • Note any oscillations or jerking motions in the eyes
  • Pay attention to the direction of the eye movements
  • Consider the individual’s medical history and any neurological conditions
  • Consult with a medical professional for a proper diagnosis

While darting eyes can be associated with anxiety disorders, there are other reasons why they might occur during conversations. Understanding the various causes of this eye movement can help you identify and address the underlying issue, allowing you to communicate more effectively.

Why Do My Eyes Dart Around When I Talk?

Disorder, social anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. These symptoms are often related to intense feelings of fear, distress, and discomfort, and can cause a person to become self-conscious and embarrassed, leading them to avoid social interactions altogether.

Eye movements are complex, involving many muscles, nerves, and brain regions. They’re controlled by both voluntary and involuntary mechanisms, which means that they can be influenced by a wide range of factors, including emotion, stress, fatigue, medication, and neurological conditions. When we speak, our brain must coordinate many different functions, including language processing, vocalization, facial expressions, and eye movements. This requires a lot of mental effort, which may lead to temporary lapses in eye control.

Some people are more prone to experience eye darting when they talk due to several reasons. One reason could be social anxiety disorder (SAD). SAD is a condition where the person experiences a persistent fear of social situations and being judged or scrutinized by others. Therefore, people with SAD tend to avoid social interactions or try to minimize their participation in them, including conversation. When they do engage in it, they may feel overwhelmed, and their eyes may dart around. Another reason is generalized anxiety disorder, which is characterized by excessive worry and fear about everyday events and activities. People with this condition may also feel anxious about their eye movements when talking and try to minimize their eye contact.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is another condition that may lead to eye darting. PTSD often occurs after people experience or witness traumatic events, such as natural disasters, war, or violence. People with PTSD may have intrusive and distressing memories and thoughts related to the event, which may cause them to feel anxious and fearful. These emotions can cause their eyes to dart around during conversations, especially when talking about the traumatic event.

People experiencing these symptoms may feel overwhelmed and self-conscious, which may lead them to avoid social interactions, including conversation. It’s essential to seek help from mental health professionals if these symptoms are causing significant distress and interfering with daily activities. Treatment options such as medication and psychotherapy can effectively reduce anxiety symptoms, including eye darting.


In conclusion, our eyes move side to side when talking due to a condition known as nystagmus which causes a miscommunication between the eye and brain. It’s also known as "dancing eyes" due to it’s characteristic movement. Understanding this condition and it’s causes can help us better understand how our eyes work and why they move in certain ways during communication. Further research and advancements in treatments for nystagmus can lead to improved quality of life for those who experience this eye condition.