“EyeLander” game for children with VI now available!

EyelandFor 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. angry baby

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 (tlhodgson@lincoln.ac.uk) or Jonathan Waddington (JWaddington@wescfoundation.ac.uk tel:01392 454200) if you would like to know more or take part in the research. 

eyelander_search

Award for Journal of Neuroscience Psychology and Economics paper

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

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“Game-ifying” visual search training for children

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:

http://wescfoundation.blogs.lincoln.ac.uk/

visual search

WESC R&D

The fingers, not the eyes, have it

Next week we will be presenting our work on orienting to socio-biological cues in children at the 17th European Conference on Eye Movements in Lund, Sweden.

me and eyetrackerAt last years Lincoln Summer Scientist event we asked children to play a game in which they followed a cartoon bee jumping to the left or right with their eyes whilst distracting pictures of arrows, pointing fingers and someone else’s eyes gazing to the left or right were shown in the middle of the screen.  We tracked their eye movements with an Eyelink 1000 eye tracking system and measured how quickly they made saccades to follow the bee.

We found that the youngest children (4-5 year olds) showed a large “congruency” effect for pictures of pointing fingers such that their speed of looking was slowest when the bee jumped in the opposite direction to that in which the hand pointed. Surprisingly, although the pre-schoolers weren’t similarly affected by pictures of eyes and arrows, older fellow summer scientists showed an equally strong congruency effect for all three types of cue (hand, eye and arrows).

The results are potentially very interesting and important in respect to understanding the best ways to direct young children’s attention quickly and effectively in an educational context as well as keeping them away from harm inside or outside of the home, but they might also have more profound implications. Rather than having hard wired “social brain” systems for processing socio-biological stimuli as suggested by some theorists, instead the brain may learn to form fast connections between what we see and what we do in early childhood. It just happens that pointing fingers may be among the first cues children learn to use in this way.

busy bee

We’re looking forward to finding out what other researchers think of our results in Lund and plan to replicate the finding at this years Lincoln Summer Scientists event. The work is carried out in collaboration with Nicola Gregory (Bournemouth University Face Research Centre). The work is part supported by the WESC foundation for Childhood Visual Impairment.

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Inaugural Lecture: Tuesday 9th April 6pm

Next Tuesday I will be giving my public inaugural lecture at the University of Lincoln. I have chosen to focus on ways in which human saccadic eye movements have and may in the future have an impact beyond academia. I will explain how eye movements can change the world in 4 different ways:

1. Eye movements themselves change our perception of the world. In a sense we all see the world differently in a way affected by our individual eye movements;

2. Visual search training, improving the efficiency with which we use eye movements, can be used to improve functional vision in adults and children with visual problems;

3. Research into attention and eye movements might be brought to bear to improve navigational cues in our visual environment, such as road signage;

4. Finally and perhaps most exciting is that saccadic measures might not only be valuable in the assessment of patients with neurological disorders, but could potentially be used to provide an early diagnosis of such conditions as Parkinsons and Dementia.

eye

   I am looking forward to talking to a general audience including members of the public, colleagues, friends and family and hope they will agree that eye movements can indeed change the world!

More details of the lecture and how to book are given here:

http://www.lincoln.ac.uk/home/campuslife/whatson/eventsconferences/event,name,20188,en.html