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The University of Southampton

Research project: Eye movements in special populations

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In everyday life the default strategy to sample the visual environment is to move our eyes in fast ballistic movements (saccades) interspersed with periods where the eye remains still (fixations). This is known as saccadic orienting, and its purpose is to re-position the high acuity area of the retina, the fovea, so that detailed inspection can be carried out at the point of fixation. This work investigates eye movements in 'normal' and 'special' participants in an aim to understand how intact, and defective saccadic orienting impacts upon the ability to sample and perceive the 'world'.

Patterns of saccades and fixations can reflect which features of a display drive the sequence of eye movements for a given task, i.e. visual search tasks, reading, scene perception. Analysis of eye movements allows us to learn about the influence of different types of visual stimuli, on visual and cognitive processing in normal and special populations. The following topics are currently being investigated by our group:

  1. Eye Movements for simple and complex information processing in Asperger’s Syndrome Disorder.
  2. Eye movements and repetitive interests in children with Autism.
  3. Eye movements and biases in threat detection for anxious individuals.
  4. Eye Movements and perceptual awareness in Visual Neglect.
  5. Eye movements and ERPs for face perception in Prosopagnosia.
  6. Eye movements and inhibition in ageing populations.

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