health medicine and biotechnology
Oculometric Testing for Detecting/Characterizing Mild Neural Impairment
To assess various aspects of dynamic visual and visuomotor function including peripheral attention, spatial localization, perceptual motion processing, and oculomotor responsiveness, NASA developed a simple five-minute clinically relevant test that measures and computes more than a dozen largely independent eye-movement-based (oculometric) measures of human neural performance. This set of oculomotor metrics provide valid and reliable measures of dynamic visual performance and may prove to be a useful assessment tool for mild functional neural impairments across a wide range of etiologies and brain regions. The technology may be useful to clinicians to localize affected brain regions following trauma, degenerative disease, or aging, to characterize and quantify clinical deficits, to monitor recovery of function after injury, and to detect operationally-relevant altered or impaired visual performance at subclinical levels. This novel system can be used as a sensitive screening tool by comparing the oculometric measures of an individual to a normal baseline population, or from the same individual before and after exposure to a potentially harmful event (e.g., a boxing match, football game, combat tour, extended work schedule with sleep disruption, blast or toxic exposure, space mission), or on an ongoing basis to monitor performance for recovery to baseline. The technology provides set of largely independent metrics of visual and visuomotor function that are sensitive and reliable within and across observers, yielding a signature multidimensional impairment vector that can be used to characterize the nature of a mild deficit, not just simply detect it. Initial results from peer-reviewed studies of Traumatic Brain Injury, sleep deprivation with and without caffeine, and low-dose alcohol consumption have shown that this NASA technology can be used to assess subtle deficits in brain function before overt clinical symptoms become obvious, as well as the efficacy of countermeasures.