The Brain's Eye View

Image credit John Liu

Image credit John Liu

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Eyes have become a hot area of research for many neuroscientists, but what they're interested in is not what eyes see, but how they move. Our eyes dart about all day long and researchers estimate we make 200 thousand eye movements each day. Those eye movements can tell a lot about what we are thinking. But it turns out we don't see with our eyes...we see with our brains. On this week's show we peek into your brain's magical ability to see, with and without your eyes.

We hear from Dr. Doug Munoz, a neuroscientist at Queens University who has actually counted our daily eye movements. Dr. Munoz is the director of the Eye Movement Lab at Queen's and oddly enough his interest in neuroscience all began with keeping his eye on the ball . 

Aging brains tend not to process visual information as well as younger brains. For driving, that clearly can be dangerous. Fortunately though, our brains are plastic and some of what is lost can be recovered and strengthened. One of the main tools for improving vision and focus in aging drivers is a video game. This week we explore the brain's eye view with Dr Henry Mahncke of PositScience. He's in the business of changing brains through neuroplasticity and has studied how our brains change as we age. Interestingly, and this is perhaps a little unsettling, we don't even notice the changes. It's not like blurry vision or difficulty in hearing. When our useful field of vision gets reduced to the view through a soda straw it still feels fine to our brains. 

So we went to Alan Kingstone's Research Lab at the University of British Columbia. Dr Kingstone's students clamp on eye tracking devices to watch each other's eye flash around as a way to study how game playing affects attention, distraction, and reflex action. Find out what it all means this week on the show.

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