Automating the analysis of eye movement for different neurodegenerative disorders

Comput Biol Med. 2024 Mar:170:107951. doi: 10.1016/j.compbiomed.2024.107951. Epub 2024 Jan 5.


The clinical observation and assessment of extra-ocular movements is common practice in assessing neurodegenerative disorders but remains observer-dependent. In the present study, we propose an algorithm that can automatically identify saccades, fixation, smooth pursuit, and blinks using a non-invasive eye tracker. Subsequently, response-to-stimuli-derived interpretable features were elicited that objectively and quantitatively assess patient behaviors. The cohort analysis encompasses persons with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), Alzheimer's disease (AD), Parkinson's disease (PD), Parkinson's disease mimics (PDM), and controls (CTRL). Overall, results suggested that the AD/MCI and PD groups had significantly different saccade and pursuit characteristics compared to CTRL when the target moved faster or covered a larger visual angle during smooth pursuit. These two groups also displayed more omitted antisaccades and longer average antisaccade latency than CTRL. When reading a text passage silently, people with AD/MCI had more fixations. During visual exploration, people with PD demonstrated a more variable saccade duration than other groups. In the prosaccade task, the PD group showed a significantly smaller average hypometria gain and accuracy, with the most statistical significance and highest AUC scores of features studied. The minimum saccade gain was a PD-specific feature different from CTRL and PDM. These features, as oculographic biomarkers, can be potentially leveraged in distinguishing different types of NDs, yielding more objective and precise protocols to diagnose and monitor disease progression.

Keywords: Biomarkers; Eye tracking; Interpretability; Neurodegenerative disorders.

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease* / diagnosis
  • Blinking
  • Eye Movements
  • Humans
  • Parkinson Disease* / diagnosis
  • Saccades