Magnetic resonance-based eye tracking using deep neural networks

Nat Neurosci. 2021 Dec;24(12):1772-1779. doi: 10.1038/s41593-021-00947-w. Epub 2021 Nov 8.


Viewing behavior provides a window into many central aspects of human cognition and health, and it is an important variable of interest or confound in many functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies. To make eye tracking freely and widely available for MRI research, we developed DeepMReye, a convolutional neural network (CNN) that decodes gaze position from the magnetic resonance signal of the eyeballs. It performs cameraless eye tracking at subimaging temporal resolution in held-out participants with little training data and across a broad range of scanning protocols. Critically, it works even in existing datasets and when the eyes are closed. Decoded eye movements explain network-wide brain activity also in regions not associated with oculomotor function. This work emphasizes the importance of eye tracking for the interpretation of fMRI results and provides an open source software solution that is widely applicable in research and clinical settings.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain Mapping* / methods
  • Eye-Tracking Technology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Neural Networks, Computer