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Eye Tracking

By examining a person’s eye movements, we are able to find out about a range of cognitive functions, such as attention and short term memory.

Following the progress or a ball thrown in the air, or a car travelling round a track requires the eyes to move in a certain way, ‘smooth pursuit eye movement’. When reading or scanning a room, however, we normally use rapid or ‘saccadic’ eye movements. Eye movements are convenient and useful to measure for finding out about psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia- they do not involve invasive procedures and can reveal information about a range of cognitive functions. Studies from across the world consistently show that people with schizophrenia perform worse than controls on eye tracking tests; during smooth pursuit tests, they often intersperse saccadic eye movements with smooth eye pursuit. Importantly, their close relatives also show these eye tracking abnormalities, indicating that eye tracking has a genetic component.