This week is the AGM of the Lincoln and District Parkinsons group of which I am proud to be honorary president. I want to thank everyone from the local group and beyond who has participated in our eye tracking studies over the last few years. I am currently writing reports for research journals about the results but here are some of the interesting findings:
eye movements in memory game
Memory Game Study: We asked people to play a memory game and used the eye tracker to measure eye movements while they searched for tokens hidden in boxes on a screen. We found that people with Parkinsons looked ahead and looked back less with their eyes when playing the game. We think Parkinsons affects planning ahead and keeping track of where you’ve already been when you’re searching for something.
Where people look in the card guessing game
Guessing Game Study: We also asked people to play a card guessing game while they wore an eye tracking helmet. They had to describe the thing that was on the card (e.g. “elephant”; “apple” etc.). When someone with Parkinsons was describing, we found players got through less cards in the allotted time, but people with Parkinsons were just as good at guessing when someone else was describing.
People without Parkinsons made eye contact to different degrees when playing the guessing game. We think the results show that other people making eye contact might help someone with Parkinsons get their words out better, as well as helping the other person to listen.
Please get in touch via e-mail or this blog page to let me know if you have any questions and let me know what you think about the findings?
This Friday 17th November we will be hosting Lincoln’s first Positively Parkinsons event in conjunction with Parkinsons UK and the Lincoln and District Parkinsons group.
The event provides an opportunity to find out more about the condition and meet people with Parkinsons. It will include sessions in which you can find out about a day in the life of a Parkinsons nurse as well as a talk from former Lincoln psychology student Jade Pickering who is now carrying out research into Parkinsons disease as part of her PhD at the University of Manchesters BEAM research group.
The event takes place in the Sarah Swift building on the main University of Lincoln campus from 10-3pm. Members of the public, Lincoln staff and students are welcome to join us. To book your place or find out more contact Dave Swindells (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Over the next 12 months I will be busy as co-investigator on a grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council as part of the Public Engagement with Research Catalyst scheme.
Led by School of History and Heritage’s Prof Carenza Lewis (of Time Team fame), the PEARL (Public Engagement for All in Research at Lincoln) project aims to enrich the culture of public engagement in research across the university, putting it on an equal footing with research and teaching.
Public engagement with research seeks to inform, inspire, upskill and enrich individuals and communities. PEARL will establish Lincoln as a model for other universities in the extent to which it values and supports staff and student public engagement activity.
The project will initially seek views of staff and students to evaluate perceptions, strengths and weaknesses of how the University currently engages non-academics in its research, but there will also be opportunities to get more hands on with PEARL including funding for public engagement events, a conference and awards so watch this space!
I am very honoured to have been invited to be Branch President for the Lincoln and District Branch of Parkinsons UK for 2017-18.
I have been working with members of the local group over the last 4 years investigating the control of eye movements in Parkinsons. This has been a long standing research interest off and on since my days as a post-doctoral research fellow at Charing Cross Hospital in London.
Our research has shown that there is a particular “marker” of Parkinsons in eye movements, namely “multi-stepping” or jerkiness of eye movements measurable under certain conditions with a computerised eye tracker. In other situations some people with Parkinsons appear to be slightly more distractable and not organise eye movements as efficiently as healthy people when carrying out problem solving and memory tasks.
The research has potential in the future to help in the early diagnosis of Parkinsons, the assessment of cognitive impairments in Parkinsons as well as helping people with Parkinsons understand the subtle ways in which the condition might affect them beyond the obvious symptoms seen in other sort of movement.
I’ve also observed that People with Parkinson are extra-ordinarily nice and generous people with an enthusiasm for research. I continue to do whatever I can in my own little way to go the extra mile (or 20!) to support them, so I was very pleased to accept the appointment as Branch President. I am looking forward to meeting established and new members at the Annual General Meeting next month in Bracebridge Heath and giving a short update on recent research.