In human history, if you wanted a clue about what happened behind someone’s eyeballs you needed to guess. Since the 1960s, scientists have studied how eye movement may be used to decode thoughts. Science fiction is not yet possible to observe the inner monologs or daydreams of individuals. Research is helping to uncover more information about how our brains and eyes interact.
Recent research from Germany has shown that eye tracking can be used to detect the location of a person’s thinking processes.
Research is more than just general curiosity. Think of yourself as a pilot who is trying to master a difficult maneuver that requires your complete attention. You’ve lost the alert flashing in your eyes that you need to pay attention. Technology can only be helpful when it is compatible with how humans behave and think in real life.
It is possible to monitor thought patterns and avoid potentially life-threatening gaps between computers and humans. Combining psychology research with AI could lead to revolutionary computer interfaces. This would be especially beneficial for those with learning disabilities.
The first version of eye movement tracking was developed in the 1960s by Alfred Yarbus, a pioneering scientist. Participants were fitted with uncomfortable suction caps that could be removed from their eyes. Reflected light was used to trace the point of focalization.
Yarbus discovered that our eyes are always shifting, and we focus on the different areas of the scene. Every eye movement brings different scenes into focus. Other parts blurred out of sight become sharper. It is impossible to take everything in at once.
It isn’t random how we view the scene. Yarbus asked his audience to view a painting in 1967’s famed study.
Then he asked the participants to tell him “how wealthy they were” as well “what their relationship was”. The question asked for revealed different patterns in eye movement.
Eye tracking has been made easier by computer programs and infrared cameras. Research has demonstrated that eye tracking can help you determine where someone is in your thinking process. Cognitive psychology studies often ask people to locate an object within an image. This is called a “Where’s Wally” puzzle.
How their eyes react to people’s intents can influence the way they move. If they’re looking for red objects, then their eyes will move first to the other red objects. The contents of a person’s short-term memory are revealed by their eye movements.
German researchers in 2022 found that eye tracking could distinguish between the two types of thinking. Ambient mode is about taking in information. Focal processing occurs in later stages of problem solving.
Ambient mode allows the eyes to move quickly over long distances in order to get rough impressions from interesting targets. This mode is useful for spatial orientation. As we learn more about the information, our focus is on it for longer periods.
These changes in gaze patterns were previously studied within the context of visual stimuli. The German study is the first to show that our eyes respond to thought processes by changing their movement patterns.
Test subjects had to build a Rubik’s cube following a template. Although the visual stimuli did not change, participants’ eye movements indicated that they were still in an ambient mode after information was received. Participants’ eye movement patterns changed as they worked on different tasks, like selecting puzzle pieces.
The research shows that technology designed to be used in conjunction with humans could employ eye tracking to monitor their users’ thought processes. My team recently created a system which presented multiple displays simultaneously on a computer monitor.
The program used AI to create arrows and highlights on the screen by tracking people’s eye movements. AI can be used to track eye movements and detect learning disabilities such as dyslexia.
An individual’s emotions may be revealed through their eye movements. One study showed that people with low mood tend to focus more on negative words, such as failure. An analysis of the data from many experiments revealed that people suffering from depression avoid positive stimuli, such as smiling faces. People with anxiety focus on threats.
People can learn from their eye movements by tracking where they are stuck on a task. A study in which cardiologists were trained to read electrocardiograms was one that used AI to determine if they required more assistance.
AI could be able combine eye-tracking with other measurements such as heart rate and brain activity in the future to provide a better estimate of how someone thinks as they work through a problem. Is it possible for computers to understand what you are thinking?
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The eye movement science helps us understand how our brain works (2023, Jan 11).
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