A 2-Day International workshop on Eye Tracking, was organized at University of Hyderabad on 7th and 8th of September 2023 as a knowledge dissemination activity of the international and multicentric iBrain ERASMUS+ grant to Prof. Ramesh Mishra. With the aim of bolstering novel research in eye-tracking with real-world implications, the workshop focused on various informative talks and hands-on interactive demos by experts and scholars from prominent international and national universities such as Humboldt University, Utrecht University, IIT-Jammu, Ashoka University among others.
Prof. Ramesh Mishra, Head of CNCS, welcomed the gathering to the inauguration and set the theme of the workshop. He stressed on the importance of real-world applicability to research and how eye-tracking can be a primary tool in this pursuit. Our Chief Guest, Prof. B. J. Rao, Vice Chancellor University of Hyderabad, in his address, expressed his pride and confidence in the progress of cognitive science in shaping the society. He particularly emphasized on education being the path to liberation. He spoke about the role of aspiring scholars in bridging the gap between research findings and their applications in prime areas of literacy, education, policymaking, artificial intelligence, advertisements and marketing. Prof. Geeta Vemuganti, Dean, School of medical sciences, highlighted the role of multidisciplinary research and the need for collaborations for the progress of science, encouraging the audience to make the most of the workshop. Prof. G. Padmaja, Head of the department of Health Psychology, congratulated the team for organizing interactive workshops keeping in mind the need of the hour. She emphasized such knowledge dissemination activities in setting the foundation for novel research ideas. Early career researchers, PhD students and postgraduate students from various research institutions such as IIT- Guwahati, Shiv Nadar University, Banaras Hindu University, DRDO, University of Hyderabad, attended the workshop.
The first lecture was delivered online by Dr. Supriya Ray, Associate Professor of Psychology, Ashoka University on ‘Understanding Cognition through Eye Tracking & Pupillometry’, wherein he covered the basics of eye tracking, and its evolution over time. He walked us through the earliest attempts to study eye movements, starting from Louis E Javal in 1879, all the way through Buswell, Yarbus, Robinson, to the contemporary Eye trackers. Second talk was delivered by Dr. Amitash Ojha, Assistant Professor, IIT Jammu on ‘Beyond eye gaze: Change in Pupil Size & Blink Rate’, wherein he delved into a new dimension of understanding creativity and aesthetics through eye tracking. The idea of symmetry and the role of perceptual similarity in understanding visual metaphors were some highlights of his talk. He also gave us an insight into understanding the pattern of eye movements on a webpage and a textbook. A hands-on session on Experiment Builder was conducted by Vaishnavi Mohite, a PhD student under Prof. Mishra, during which the audience simultaneously designed experiments on their systems. She also discussed the theoretical underpinnings to consider while designing eye-tracking experiments. The last talk for the day was given by Prof. Dr. Pia Knoeferle, Director, Faculty of Language, Literature and the Humanities, Humboldt University, on ‘Eye-tracking lifespan, Bilingual & Register Variation’, which dealt with the aspects of language processing – such as how people across different age groups process context in a language setting, and the impact of formal and informal contexts on language processing.
Day 2 of the workshop began with an interactive demonstration of desktop-mount, as well as remote eye-trackers; two of the main eye-tracking equipment in the lab. Mr. Parag Amodkar, manager at TOBII Eye Tracking, delivered a talk on ‘Introduction to Various Eye trackers’. He demonstrated the functioning of TOBII’s wearable eye-tracker and its applications, in the fields of defence, decision-making, consumer research, aircraft navigation, etc. Prof. Mishra delivered an intriguing talk on ‘Understanding Cognition via Eye-Tracking’, giving prominence to asking basic metaphysical questions first (Why do we see?) before going into the mechanistic explanations. Vision science is interested in sensory processing, but cognitive science is all about symbolic processing – was the major takeaway from his talk. We also got some insights into the affective, experiential nature of cognition. The last talk of the day was delivered online by Prof. Stefan Van Der Stigchel on ‘A Dynamic Trade-off between Internal Storage and External Sampling of Visual Information’, drawing attention to the role of visual working memory (VWM). He talked about saccadic preferences, planning saccades in stages, and the role of effort in this regard. The workshop ended with a hands-on tutorial on Data Viewer, led by Madhulika Pathak, who is pursuing her PhD with Prof. Mishra, where we learnt different aspects of looking at eye movements data. The evening concluded with a valedictory session where certificates were distributed to the participants.
The 2-day interactive workshop was a foray into understanding the role of eye-movements in studying the mind. Participants enthused that the workshop was successful in enhancing their interests in eye-tracking, giving them a broader outlook for applications of such research.
Contributed by Kanika Sachdeva, M.Sc. Student of Centre for Neural and Cognitive Sciences