Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Questions answered with the pupils of your eyes

Date:
August 5, 2013
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
Patients who are otherwise completely unable to communicate can answer yes or no questions within seconds with the help of a simple system -- consisting of just a laptop and camera -- that measures nothing but the size of their pupils. The tool takes advantage of changes in pupil size that naturally occur when people do mental arithmetic. It requires no specialized equipment or training at all.

This is a still frame, depicting essentially the final frame of the movie, only that in the upper right the computation is still depicted.
Credit: Current Biology, Stoll et al.

Patients who are otherwise completely unable to communicate can answer yes or no questions within seconds with the help of a simple system -- consisting of just a laptop and camera -- that measures nothing but the size of their pupils. The tool, described and demonstrated in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, on August 5 takes advantage of changes in pupil size that naturally occur when people do mental arithmetic. It requires no specialized equipment or training at all.

Related Articles


The new pupil response system might not only help those who are severely motor-impaired communicate, but might also be extended to assessing the mental state of patients whose state of consciousness is unclear, the researchers say.

"It is remarkable that a physiological system as simple as the pupil has such a rich repertoire of responses that it can be used for a task as complex as communication," says Wolfgang Einhäuser of Philipps-Universität Marburg in Germany.

The researchers asked healthy people to solve a math problem only when the correct answer to a yes or no question was shown to them on a screen. The mental load associated with solving that problem caused an automatic increase in pupil size, which the researchers showed they could measure and translate into an accurate answer to questions like "Are you 20 years old?"

They then tested out their pupil response algorithm on seven "typical" locked-in patients who had suffered brain damage following a stroke. In many cases, they were able to discern an answer based on pupil size alone.

"We find it remarkable that the system worked almost perfectly in all healthy observers and then could be transferred directly from them to the patients, with no need for training or parameter adjustment," Einhäuser says.

While the system could still use improvement in terms of speed and accuracy, those are technical hurdles Einhäuser is confident they can readily overcome. Their measures of pupil response could already make an important difference for those who need it most.

"For patients with altered state of consciousness -- those who are in a coma or other unresponsive state -- any communication is a big step forward," he says.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Josef Stoll, Camille Chatelle, Olivia Carter, Christof Koch, Steven Laureys, Wolfgang Einhäuser. Pupil responses allow communication in locked-in syndrome patients. Current Biology, 2013; 23 (15): R647 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.06.011

Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Questions answered with the pupils of your eyes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 August 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130805131005.htm>.
Cell Press. (2013, August 5). Questions answered with the pupils of your eyes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 28, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130805131005.htm
Cell Press. "Questions answered with the pupils of your eyes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130805131005.htm (accessed January 28, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Malnutrition on the Rise as Violence Flares in C. Africa

Malnutrition on the Rise as Violence Flares in C. Africa

AFP (Jan. 28, 2015) — Violence can flare up at any moment in Bambari with only a bridge separating Muslims and Christians. Malnutrition is on the rise and lack of water means simple cooking fires threaten to destroy makeshift camps where people are living. Duration: 00:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Poultry Culled in Taiwan to Thwart Bird Flu

Poultry Culled in Taiwan to Thwart Bird Flu

Reuters - News Video Online (Jan. 28, 2015) — Taiwan culls over a million poultry in efforts to halt various strains of avian flu. Julie Noce reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Media Criticizing Parents For Not Vaccinating Children

Media Criticizing Parents For Not Vaccinating Children

Newsy (Jan. 28, 2015) — As the Disneyland measles outbreak continues to spread, the media says parents who choose not to vaccinate their children are part of the cause. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shark Bite Victim Making Amazing Recovery

Shark Bite Victim Making Amazing Recovery

AP (Jan. 27, 2015) — A Texas woman who lost more than five pounds of flesh to a shark in the Bahamas earlier this month could be released from a Florida hospital soon. Experts believe she was bitten by a bull shark while snorkeling. (Jan. 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins