The Feasibility of Automated Eye Tracking With the Early Childhood Vigilance Test of Attention in Younger HIV-Exposed Ugandan Children

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Abstract

Objective: Tobii eye tracking was compared with webcam-based observer scoring on an animation viewing measure of attention (Early Childhood Vigilance Test; ECVT) to evaluate the feasibility of automating measurement and scoring. Outcomes from both scoring approaches were compared with the Mullen Scales of Early Learning (MSEL), Color-Object Association Test (COAT), and Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function for preschool children (BRIEF-P). Method: A total of 44 children 44 to 65 months of age were evaluated with the ECVT, COAT, MSEL, and BRIEF-P. Tobii ×2-30 portable infrared cameras were programmed to monitor pupil direction during the ECVT 6-min animation and compared with observer-based PROCODER webcam scoring. Results: Children watched 78% of the cartoon (Tobii) compared with 67% (webcam scoring), although the 2 measures were highly correlated (r = .90, p = .001). It is possible for 2 such measures to be highly correlated even if one is consistently higher than the other (Bergemann et al., 2012). Both ECVT Tobii and webcam ECVT measures significantly correlated with COAT immediate recall (r = .37, p = .02 vs. r = .38, p = .01, respectively) and total recall (r = .33, p = .06 vs. r = .42, p = .005) measures. However, neither the Tobii eye tracking nor PROCODER webcam ECVT measures of attention correlated with MSEL composite cognitive performance or BRIEF-P global executive composite. Conclusion: ECVT scoring using Tobii eye tracking is feasible with at-risk very young African children and consistent with webcam-based scoring approaches in their correspondence to one another and other neurocognitive performance-based measures. By automating measurement and scoring, eye tracking technologies can improve the efficiency and help better standardize ECVT testing of attention in younger children. This holds promise for other neurodevelopmental tests where eye movements, tracking, and gaze length can provide important behavioral markers of neuropsychological and neurodevelopmental processes associated with such tests.

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