In order to perceive the world around us, we must move our eyes almost constantly. We typically make ~2 to 4 eye movements every second; over 100,000 every day. These eye movements are necessary because of the design of the human eye. Unlike manmade image sensors such as CCDs or photographic film, the image sensor at the back of the eye (the retina) is highly anisotropic; the resolution varies by orders of magnitude across the field. High acuity is only available in a small area at the center of the retina, so the eyes are moved to 'point to' objects or regions in the scene that require high acuity. Eye movements are also made toward task-relevant targets even when high spatial resolution is not required. These eye movements, made without conscious intervention, can reveal attentional mechanisms and provide a window into cognition; they are the focus or our research.
By examining the eye movements of subjects as they perform complex tasks, we are able to take advantage of this window into cognition, helping us understand how we gather information from the environment, how we store and recover the information, and how we use that information in planning and guiding actions.
Recent work in the Visual Perception Laboratory has focused on using the RIT Wearable Eyetracker to monitor complex, real-life tasks in natural environments.