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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

University at Buffalo: Researchers Employ Eye-tracking Technology to Detect Neurological Disorders

A University at Buffalo biomedical engineer and rehabilitation science researchers are collaborating on ways to use high-tech devices to diagnose and ameliorate neurological conditions.

Dr. Anirban Dutta, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, is working with Dr. Machiko Tomita, clinical professor of rehabilitation science in University at Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions, to combine eye-tracking with portable neuroimaging to improve the specificity for early diagnosis of dementia. Early diagnosis will allow early intervention with exergaming, which may prevent and control a patient’s transition to dementia.

Dr. Dutta is also collaborating with Dr. Sue Ann Sisto, chair, UB Department of Rehabilitation Science, to develop non-invasive brain stimulation as an adjunct to exergaming.

Along with Dr. Sisto and colleagues in India, Dr. Dutta prepared and was awarded a Support to Promote Advancement of Research and Creativity (SPARC) grant to further “convergence” research related to neuroimaging-guided non-invasive electrical stimulation.

Exergaming — technology-driven physical activity requiring participants to be physically active — may be beneficial for people in the stage between normal aging and dementia, called mild cognitive impairment. The research uses eye-tracking technology to detect mild cognitive impairment in test subjects.

The technology and a battery of cognitive tasks are nicknamed “MindEye,” which is a collaboration between Dutta, and researchers at Indian Institute of Technology and AMRI. It uses a low-cost infrared camera to detect subtle changes in pupil dilation and eye movement. These changes indicate cognitive impairment, which often begins years before other Alzheimer’s symptoms are visible. These changes increase as the disease progresses.

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