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Simple gaze analysis and special design of a virtual Morris water maze provides a new method for differentiating egocentric and allocentric navigational strategy choice

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  • Sharon A Livingstone-Lee, Denmark
  • Sonja Murchison, Denmark
  • Philip M Zeman
  • ,
  • Mehul Gandhi, Denmark
  • Dustin van Gerven, Denmark
  • Lauren Stewart
  • ,
  • Nigel J Livingston, Denmark
  • Ronald W Skelton, Denmark

We present a novel method of combining eye tracking with specially designed virtual environments to provide objective evidence of navigational strategy selection. A simple, inexpensive video camera with an easily built infrared LED array is used to capture eye movements at 60Hz. Simple algorithms analyze gaze position at the start of each virtual maze trial to identify stimuli used for navigational orientation. To validate the methodology, human participants were tested in two virtual environments which differed with respect to features usable for navigation and which forced participants to use one or another of two well-known navigational strategies. Because the environmental features for the two kinds of navigation were clustered in different regions of the environment (and the video display), a simple analysis of gaze-position during the first (i.e., orienting) second of each trial revealed which features were being attended to, and therefore, which navigational strategy was about to be employed on the upcoming trial.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Pages (from-to)117-25
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 20 Nov 2011

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