Cortical visual processing and mechanism under eye movements and visiospatial attention undergo prominent developmental changes during the first 12 months of infancy. At that time, these key functions of vision are tightly connected to the early brain development in general. Thus, they are favourable targets for new research methods that can be used in treatment, prediction, or detection of various adverse visual of neurocognitive conditions. This thesis presents two eye tracker assisted test paradigms that may be used to evaluate and quantify different functions of infants’ visual processing. The first study concentrates on the analysis of the gaze patterns in classic face-distractor competition paradigm known to tap mechanisms under infant’s attention disengagement and visuospatial orienting. A novel stimuli over a given period of time. In further evaluation, the metric is shown to be sensitive to developmental changes in infants’ face processing between 5 and 7 months of age. The second study focuses on the visual evoked potentials (VEPs) elicited by orientation reversal, global form, and clobal motion stimulation known to measure distinct aspects of visual processing at the cortical level. To improve the reality of such methods, an eye tracker is integrated to the recording setup, which can be used to control stimulus presentation to capture the attention of the infant, and in the analysis to exclude the electroencephalography (EEG) segments with disorientated gaze. With this setup, VEPs can be detected from the vast majority of the tested 3-month-old infants (N=39) using circular variant of Hotelling’s T2 test statistic and two developed power spectrum based metrics. After further development already in progress, the presented methods are ready to be used clinically in assessments of neurocognitive development, preferably alongside other similar biomarker tests of infancy.
|Tila||Julkaistu - 2015|