Eye-tracking as an outcome

What are the aims of the project?

The aim of the study is to see whether playing an iPad game changes how children look at pictures. This is important in helping us understand the impact of technology on child development – which we believe has the potential for huge benefit but may also carry risks. We also hope that one day this work will form the basis of a new way to support learning and measure progress for children with autism.

More specifically, we hope to find out whether eye-tracking can be used as an outcome measure in intervention studies with children with autism. An outcome measure is a tool we use to measure what a child has learned – maybe from a specific learning activity (like an intervention) or just over time.

Baby and the eye-trackerIn order to find out if eye tracking could be used in this way, we want to know whether the technique can pick up changes in the way children look at pictures from an app after they have viewed those pictures repeatedly. We are also interested to discover whether the same changes apply when looking at pictures that are similar to the ones from the app and also pictures that are less similar. Exploring these questions with typically-developing children will help us to know if eye-tracking could later be used to find out whether children with autism change their looking patterns in response to interventions.

What will the project involve?

The project will use eye-tracking to look for changes over time in how typically developing children look at familiar pictures from an app. In the first session, children aged 18 months to two years old will be shown pictures of people surrounded by everyday scenes. An eye-tracker will monitor where they look. Some of the pictures they see will be from the ‘FindMe’ app. This app was designed by a team at the University of Edinburgh to be a fun social learning game for children (you can read more about the app here). Children will also see pictures that are very similar to those from the app, as well as pictures that are less similar. Children will then play the ‘FindMe’ app for at least 10 minutes each day for two weeks. After this, children will be asked to come back for a second session in which they will be shown the same pictures as in the first session.

FindMe image

Image from the FindMe app (copyright Yuan Kai, 2011)

Once we have finished collecting data, we will find out whether the children looked at the pictures from the app differently between the two sessions, and whether there were differences in the way they looked at the very similar and less similar pictures.

Where are we now?

We are about to finish collecting data and we have almost closed recruitment for this study. You can download a study flier here to share with any potential participants you know if they want to come in for an appointment in January 2016.

If you would like to participate in the study, you can contact Sarah Hampton:


         Email: shampton@exseed.ed.ac.uk

         Phone: 0131 537 6289



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