For the last 2 years I have been working with the WESC Foundation in Exeter to develop a computer game to improve vision in children and young people with partial visual loss. In EyeLander you play the role of a character (The “EyeLander”) who must escape from an island using her visual skills. You have to make your way through a series of challenges to escape the erupting volcano, including dodging lava, an angry cow and a giant laughing baby! The only way to get through them to your boat is to find various coloured target shapes hidden amongst distracting items on the screen.
Although based closely on visual search training that has been shown to be effective in adults with hemianopia (see earlier post), EyeLander is unique in that is has been developed in collaboration with children at WESC and social computing researchers from Lincoln’s Computer Science department, adopting a user centred design approach. We believe this will make visual search training more effective and fun for children and even adults with visual field loss.
We will be evaluating the effectiveness of the game over the next few months and are interested in hearing from you if you suffer from any form of partial visual loss and would be willing to take part in the evaluation. We are also seeking involvement from children in the South West with normal vision to take part in the research by playing the game and being an EyeLander!
Please contact myself (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Jonathan Waddington (JWaddington@wescfoundation.ac.uk tel:01392 454200) if you would like to know more or take part in the research.
The Lincoln Eyelink Lab (a.k.a. Lab E1) promises to be a busy place this summer. Undergraduate Research Opportunities Scheme (UROS) students Daniel Richardson and Jade Pickering will be working in the lab between July and August alongside two eye movement researchers from Turkey.
Daniel Richardson is examining the “neuroeconomics” of reward and eye movements. Together we are developing a task in which participants learn mappings between target stimuli and points rewards. We are interested in whether the learned reward value of stimuli might subtley modify the kinematics (speed and accuracy) of eye movements made towards them.
Jade Pickering will be assisting with my investigations of oculomotor and cognitive studies in people with Parkinsons later in the summer as well as collecting some pilot data for the GPSAC project using the Ober saccadometer device.
PhD research student Murat Ozger will be continuing to develop his work on visual attention and eye movements in Crime Scene Investigation settings (see YouTube video).
We are also joined by visiting researcher Aycem Ozturk (Dokus Eylul University, Izmir, Turkey) who is in the UK to learn about the Eyelink 1000 system and to further develop her research into oculomotor function in Parkinsons and dementia.
It is exciting for me to be working in such a busy team of researchers this year and I am sure it will be a rewarding summer!
Our 2012 fMRI “Neuro-economics” study of a Coordination / Temptation game scenario, carried out in collaboration with Milan based social philosopher Francesco Guala has been given an award as one of the Top 10 all time classic papers published in the APA publication JNPE. I am looking forward to traveling to Munich to accept the award at the NeuroPsychoEconomics conference at Ludwig-Maximillian University at the end of May.
Abstract of paper
More about the conference
Psychology News Blog
And previous posts
This month I attended the London meeting of the Experimental Psychology Society. I presented preliminary analysis of some eye movement data we recorded whilst people perform a task based upon a widely used computerised neuropsychological test of spatial working memory (Cambridge Cognition Ltd’s CANTAB SWM test).
Spatial working memory refers to the short term storage of information in memory about where things are in space for guiding our behaviour and actions. In the Cantab task “tokens” are hidden under boxes on a screen and participants have to search for them by clicking with a mouse on the boxes and remember where they found the tokens to guide subsequent box selections (as tokens are never hidden under the same location twice). As you can see in the videos here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PStfmW6q_c0 participants make quite a lot of eye movements in the task! So the challenge has been to make sense of how eye movements are guided. Are they shaped by the memory of where tokens have been found, such that the eyes help to keep track of the route covered? Or do they exclusively plan a search route ahead selecting the next box to be clicked on? Might eye movement measures extracted from the task be useful in assessing memory problems?
Our analysis suggests that most eye movements look ahead and select the next box to be clicked on well in advance of the mouse click which reveals its contents. However, particularly in a few participants, the eyes also get drawn back to locations where tokens have already been found, even if they don’t click on the box, indicating that they do actually remember that a token hasnt been found there (see here for a nice example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xtoCLcqtHnM). These subjects were more likely to go on to make lots of actual click errors in the most difficult version of the task though, suggesting eye movements measures may be more sensitive than just mouse clicks.
We have more analysis and work to do with this task and hope to get some people with Parkinsons to do the test as we think they may show subtly different patterns of eye movements in the task to otherwise healthy individuals.
Our Knowledge Transfer Partnership with the WESC foundation Exeter is nearly half way through its two years and is getting really exciting. Dr Jonathan Waddington, post-doctoral neuroscientist and lead researcher based at WESC recently visited the Perception Action Cognition research group in Lincoln to up date us on progress. The visual search computer game is nearly ready to move into the next stage of an evaluation trial to see whether it can deliver improvements in functional vision in children with visual field loss. See here for a more details via the WESC research and development blog: