Eye tracking was found to be a feasible tool for measuring word comprehension in young typically developing children and those with profound expressive language delays, according to research presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies 2018 Meeting.
“The goal of the study was to evaluate eye tracking as a tool for measuring receptive language ability in pediatric patients,” Mary Vernov, MD, of New York Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell Medical Center, said in a press release. “Findings show that eye tracking can be explored as a modality for assessing receptive language in children. This has important implications for evaluating children with developmental delays and may be used an alternative of communication in those with expressive language delays,"
“Neurodevelopmental assessment in children with significant motor delays (eg, cerebral palsy), which is often associated with apraxia, is difficult,” Vernov and colleagues wrote.
The researchers conducted a prospective study of patients aged 18 months to 6 years in a general pediatrics clinic and exneonates who were at high risk for neurodevelopmental delay (NDD). To present stimuli and collect data, a Tobii Pro X3-120 eye tracker was used, along with Tobii Studio software.
Specific gaze data were first measured. Audio instructed the participants to gaze at the target when a stimulus of the target image and a distractor were presented.
Accuracy and fixation proportion were used to assess word comprehension. The amount of time spent looking at the target, which was divide by the total time looking at both the target and distractor, determined accuracy.
“Fixation proportion is the difference between time spent fixating on an image when it is the target, minus fixation when it is the distracter,” the researchers wrote.
Word understanding resulted in positive scores.
The researchers reported that 13 children had undergone testing, with typically developing (TD) children aged 18 to 24 months (n = 5) displaying accuracy of 59 ± 10% compared with TD children aged 3 to 4 years (n = 4), who displayed accuracy of 71 ± 9.0% (P = .05). Accuracy was 58 ± 7% for children with excessive language delays (ELD) aged 3 to 6 years (n = 4), compared with 71 ± 9% for TD children in the same age group (P = .03).
The TD children aged 18 to 24 months (n = 2) had a word comprehension as measured by fixation proportion of 54 ± 29%, whereas older TD children aged 3 to 4 years (n = 4) scored 85 ± 20% (P = .09).
“Accuracy in children with ELD is significantly decreased compared to TD children of the same age, suggesting a more diffuse cognitive impairment,” the researchers concluded “Based on these preliminary findings, eye tracking can be explored as a modality for assessing receptive language in TD children and those with neurodevelopmental delay.” —by Bruce Thiel
Vernov M, et al. Using eye tracking (ET) as a tool to assess receptive language in typically developing (TD) children and children at high risk of r neurodevelopmental delay (NDD). Presented at: The Pediatric Academic Societies 2018 Meeting; May 5-8, 2018; Toronto.
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