Primary Supervisor: Professor Kevin Paterson, Department for Neuroscience, Psychology and Behaviour
Secondary Supervisor: Professor Elizabeta Mukaetova-Ladinska; Dr Sarah White; Dr David Souto
PhD project title: Using Co-Registration of Eye Movements and Electroencephalography to Investigate Ageing Effects on Visual Cognition
University of Registration: University of Leicester
Normative ageing is associated with reductions in visuo-cognitive abilities required for the effective performance of many activities of daily life (e.g., reading, navigation, object-finding). These losses in visuo-cognitive abilities have been widely studies using behavioural tasks, including tasks that use precise measures of eye movement behaviour to draw inferences about impairments to cognitive functions. However, despite these efforts, little is known about the underlying neural correlates of these impairments, although such information will be important for understanding normative ageing effects on underlying brain processes. The proposed research will address this issue by using novel methods that synchronise the recording of electroencephalography (i.e., EEG) with eye movements to examine the specific patterns of brain activity that occur on each fixation (i.e., the fixate-related potential or FRP).
The research will be undertaken in the Neuroscience, Psychology and Behaviour laboratories in the George Davies Medical Research Centre, using a state-of-the-art EEG system and high-resolution eye-tracking to co-register of EEG and eye movements in real-time. Our research group is the first to apply these methods to understanding normative ageing effects on the neural correlates of factors influencing the recognition of words during natural reading. Potential projects in this area could: (1) extend this work by undertaking novel investigations of ageing effects on the neural correlates of reading comprehension, with the objective of determining whether there are differences in the underlying patterns of neural activity produced by older adults (aged 65+ years) compared to groups of younger adults (aged 18-30 years); or (2) use this method to examine ageing effects on fundamental processes underlying visual cognition (e.g., saccadic control, visual search) in these two age-groups.
The human participants for this research would be recruited using a database of older adult volunteers and young adult participants recruited from the University student population. The PhD student would receive training in the design of human experimental studies, use of the co-registration method, and acquisition of eye movement and electro-encephalographic data during the performance of cognitive tasks in real time. Training would also be given in the analysis of the resulting eye movement and FRP data and application of linear mixed-effect modelling using statistical packages in the R programming environment. The student would be encouraged and supported in presenting the results of their research to conferences focused on the application of cognitive neuroscience methods in ageing research.
- Degno, F., Loberg, O., Zang, C., Zhang, M., Donnelly, N., & Liversedge, S. P. (2019). Parafoveal previews and lexical frequency in natural reading: evidence from eye movements and fixation-related potentials. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General,148, 453-474.
- Henderson, J. M., Luke, S. G., Schmidt, J., & Richards, J. E. (2013). Co-registration of eye movements and event-related potentials in connected-text paragraph reading. Frontiers in systems neuroscience, 7, 28.
- Kamienkowski, J. E., Ison, M. J., Quiroga, R. Q., Sigman, M. (2012). Fixation-related potentials in visual search: a combined EEG and eye tracking study. Journal of Vision, 12.
BBSRC Strategic Research Priority: Understanding the Rules of Life: Ageing
Techniques that will be undertaken during the project:
- High-precision eye movement recording
- Co-registration of eye movements and EEG
- Linear mixed-effect modelling
Contact: Professor Kevin Paterson, University of Leicester