In complex, fast-paced environments (e.g., in an aircraft, in sport, on the battlefield), even small mental lapses may have disastrous consequences, imparting operational significance to the assessment of neural health and function (Friedl et al., 2007; Kennedy & Moore, 2010). Traditionally, the discipline of neuropsychology has used simple response-time measures (e.g., you press a button when a light flashes), memory tests (e.g., you remember words from a list), and assorted types of cognitive batteries (e.g., attention, mental rotation, executive function) to evaluate the functional state of neural circuits. Recently, several military research projects (Capo-Aponte et al., 2012; Stone & Liston, 2014) have begun assessing the feasibility of using eye-movement tests to determine the health and function of neural circuits.
Eye movements are the fastest (with response latencies of 125 ms), most frequent (3 per second), and most precise voluntary movements made by humans, a model motor system for exploring the functional performance of neural systems. Many well-known field assessments (e.g., the field sobriety test, MACE – military acute concussion assessment, a gross neurological examination) use grossly-observable oculomotor signs (e.g., pupil dilation, nystagmus, smooth pursuit) to support quick decisions about neural health and function. neuroFit’s approach uses patent-pending NASA technology to measure objective, eye-movement-based oculometrics of neural health and function.
What can oculometrics measure? Anatomically, oculometrics measure the health of every neuron and synapse from the retinal photoreceptors that transduce visual signals – to the cortical circuitry that supports object and motion perception – to the commands that ultimately drive the extraocular muscles. Functionally, oculometrics measure the speed and quality of information processing in the brain, how accurately an individual perceives motion, and idiosyncrasies in how individuals process motion (Liston & Stone, 2014). These metrics can be degraded by disease (e.g., retinal degeneration, neurodegenerative disorders), traumatic brain injury (Liston, Wong, & Stone, 2016), drug or alcohol intoxication, neurotoxin exposure, and even fatigue.
neuroFit’s tools can be used to identify individuals with above-average visual capabilities, screen for performance changes, and identify the factors that keep athletes from performing at the top of their game, and ultimately the factors that keep them there.
The eyes are the windows into the brain.™ Eye movements, captured by neuroFit ONE, can provide an up-to-the-minute snapshot of brain health and function.