A Method to Quantify Visual Information Processing in Children Using Eye Tracking

Marlou Kooiker, Johan Pel, SP van der Steen-Kant, Hans Steen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademic

32 Citations (Scopus)


Visual problems that occur early in life can have major impact on a child's development. Without verbal communication and only based on observational methods, it is difficult to make a quantitative assessment of a child's visual problems. This limits accurate diagnostics in children under the age of 4 years and in children with intellectual disabilities. Here we describe a quantitative method that overcomes these problems. The method uses a remote eye tracker and a four choice preferential looking paradigm to measure eye movement responses to different visual stimuli. The child sits without head support in front of a monitor with integrated infrared cameras. In one of four monitor quadrants a visual stimulus is presented. Each stimulus has a specific visual modality with respect to the background, e.g., form, motion, contrast or color. From the reflexive eye movement responses to these specific visual modalities, output parameters such as reaction times, fixation accuracy and fixation duration are calculated to quantify a child's viewing behavior. With this approach, the quality of visual information processing can be assessed without the use of communication. By comparing results with reference values obtained in typically developing children from 0-12 years, the method provides a characterization of visual information processing in visually impaired children. The quantitative information provided by this method can be advantageous for the field of clinical visual assessment and rehabilitation in multiple ways. The parameter values provide a good basis to: (i) characterize early visual capacities and consequently to enable early interventions; (ii) compare risk groups and follow visual development over time; and (iii), construct an individual visual profile for each child.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE)
Issue number113
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Research programs

  • EMC ONWAR-01-94-01

Cite this