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Barrow researchers identify
Date:4/5/2013

(Phoenix, AZ April 4, 2013) -- Brain researchers at Barrow Neurological Institute have discovered that we explore the world with our eyes in a different way than previously thought. Their results advance our understanding of how healthy observers and neurological patients interact and glean critical information from the world around them.

The research team was led by Dr. Susana Martinez-Conde, Director of the Laboratory of Visual Neuroscience at Barrow, in collaboration with fellow Barrow Neurological Institute researchers Jorge Otero-Millan, Rachel Langston, and Dr. Stephen Macknik, Director of the Laboratory of Behavioral Neurophysiology. The study, titled "An oculomotor continuum from exploration to fixation", was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Previously, scientists thought that we sample visual information from the world in two main different modes: exploration and fixation. "We used to think that we make large eye movements to search for objects of interest, and then fix our gaze to see them with high detail," says Martinez-Conde. "But now we know that's not quite right."

The discovery shows that even during visual fixation, we are actually scanning visual details with small eye movements -- just like we explore visual scenes with big eye movements, but on a smaller scale. This means that exploration and fixation are two ends of the same continuum of oculomotor scanning.

Subjects viewed natural images while the team measured their eye movements with high-speed eye tracking. The images could range in size from the massive, presented on a room-sized video monitor in the Barrow Neurological Institute's Eller Telepresence Room, normally used for Barrow's surgeons to collaborate in brain surgeries with colleagues around the world, to images that a
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Contact: Lynne Reaves
lynne.reaves@dignityhealth.org
602-406-4734
St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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