Sunday, February 25, 2018

Are gaze patterns affected by our genetics?

A study was done by Indiana University to test if eye movement, or gaze pattern, is controlled by genetics. The purpose of the study was to help us understand the differences between individuals’ gaze patterns and to see if they are influenced by genetics. Eye movement is an important thing to study because one of the first ways that we interact with our environment is through visual exploration. This study compared the gaze patterns of 233 pairs of twins (ages 9 to 14) of which about half were identical twins. The children’s gaze patterns were measured with an eye tracker which tracks movements in space and time. They also looked at how many features in the scene the children looked at, some only looked at one or two while others looked at many different features in the scene. They found similarities in the gaze patterns of both the identical and fraternal twins but saw much stronger similarities between the identical twins. They could match the correct twins using their gaze patterns, this is called gaze fingerprinting. The results support the hypothesis that the way we visually explore our environment is due to our genetics. 

This picture shows how the gaze patterns of twins were compared. They did not clarify if this was a set of identical or fraternal twins. I would have liked to have seen more pictures comparing identical twins, fraternal twins, and two unrelated people. I found it very interesting that they could identify a set of twins using their gaze patterns. It made me wonder what the similarities are between family members’ gaze patterns such as a parent and child. 

This is the link to the original paper that ScienceDaily used to write the article.

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