Researchers say eye tracking could diagnose brain disorders more accurately than subjective questionnaires or medical examinations. To make sense of all that people see, the brain filters huge amounts of visual information, fills in gaps and focuses on certain objects. That complex task uses many mental circuits, so differences in what people choose to look at ― differences so subtle that only a computer can spot them ― could provide unprecedented insight into common neurological problems. See the full article here.
“Eye tracking is a great way to assess somebody’s spontaneous attention and preference. That’s really fundamental to who you are as a person,” said Karen Pierce, a researcher at the University of California, San Diego, Autism School of Excellence.
Eye movement can help doctors differentiate between fetal alcohol syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Both diseases hav
e similar symptoms, but the treatments are very different, said researcher Laurent Itti of the University of Southern California.
Itti and his colleagues recorded eye movements as patients with one or the other disease watched 20 minutes of television. The experiment accurately distinguished ADHD patients from those with fetal alcohol syndrome 77 percent of the time, according to a paper published online Aug. 25 in the Journal of Neurology. [Typical Toddler or ADHD: 10 Ways to Tell]
Eye tracking can accurately screen for neurological disorders partly because of the sheer amount of data it provides, Itti said.
“Every picture contains a million different pixels and we send that data at 30 pictures per second. And the eye movement contains a lot of information. You move your eyes more often than you beat your heart,” he said.
The technology can also identify schizophrenia. When asked to visually follow a moving object in a task called the smooth pursuit test, schizophrenics have trouble keeping their eyes on the target and constantly have to play catch-up. In a paper published May 21 in the journal Biological Psychiatry, researchers used eye tracking and such visual tests to distinguish with 98 percent accuracy between schizophrenics and healthy controls.
It seems that eye tracking is on a fast track to be the future for diagnosing all kinds of neurological diseases.
Hat tip to our stellar summer intern Jacob, who kindly took time off of mending chicken wire to research and write this post.