eye tracking 2‌‌‌Traditional wisdom tells us that the eyes are the windows to the soul.  In our laboratory, we cannot answer such questions!  However, eye movement is highly sensitive to biological, psychological and social influence.  As a result, when we track how a person’s eyes move, we can test for biological issues (such as eye or brain disorders), psychological issues (e.g., phobias) and societal issues (e.g., stereotyping). For example, someone with a diagnosis of schizophrenia will usually show eye movements that are atypical, or different from the average person.  Also, if a person is afraid of spiders, they will look at spiders differently – they might be afraid to take their eyes off the spider, or they might look away from the spider to try and ignore it.

We can also learn about the typical reactions of people when presented with visual scenes.  For example, eye tracking is also a powerful tool for understanding and evaluating how people work.  Eye movement can be used to assess the quality of workplace software and as an early test for usability issues.

Our Work

At NUI Galway, the Eye Tracking Laboratory is a collaborative venture by the School of Psychology and the discipline of Business Information Systems.  We track eye movements in a variety of contexts.  Here are just a few examples.

Decision-making.  When we are considering choices in front of us, our eye movement patterns are involved in updating our evaluations of these choices and provide a ‘readout’ of the decision making process. We also examine eye movements to understand how the way the presentation of a choice impacts on the decision making process.

Avoidance.  When we see something that we do not like or fear, then we avoid it. This is healthy to do in moderation, but some people begin to avoid situations so much that it affects the quality of their lives.  We investigate eye movements to learn more about avoidance and to help those who engage in too much avoidance behavior.

Clinical Psychology.  Individuals with certain mental health issues have disordered eye movements.  By tracking eye movement, we can potentially develop novel diagnostic measures.  Also, we can assess how psychological interventions change eye movements as a person’s mental health improves.

User Experience. Eye tracking is also a powerful tool for understanding and evaluating user experience.  For example, when someone is using a website and they find it easy, their eye movements will be relatively predictable and fast but steady.  If they find a website difficult to use, their eyes will search around rapidly and unpredictably.


EyeLink 1000plus 2000Hz Eye tracker

Want to know more?

Contact Dr Denis O’Hora (Psychology) or Mairéad Hogan (Business Information Systems)