Internet app tracks pupil dimension in folks, mice | Spectrum
Eye spy: A new pupillometry tool called MEYE runs on every standard web browser.
A new open source web app can measure changes in pupil size in both humans and mice as accurately as a commercial eye tracker can. The tool could help researchers standardize studies of pupillary differences in autistic people and in mouse models of autism.
Some scientists see students as potential windows to autism. A slow pupillary reflex can serve as an early indicator of autism, according to several studies in autistic and non-autistic children. And other work has found altered pupillary dynamics in mice that carry mutations in genes associated with autism.
Studies like this typically use commercial eye tracking devices and software to precisely monitor pupil dynamics. However, such tools can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars and require extensive programming skills. And researchers using these tools require different setups for mice and humans, which limits the comparison between species.
The new tool, called MEYE, is the first dedicated to interspecies pupillometry, says study researcher Raffaele Mazziotti, a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute of Neuroscience of the Italian National Research Council in Pisa.
MEYE uses artificial intelligence to bridge the gap between human and mouse eyes, according to Fabio Carrara, a graduate fellow at the National Research Council’s Italian Institute of Information Science and Technologies in Pisa who was responsible for much of MEYE’s programming.
The researchers described the tool in eNeuro in September and made the web app and source code freely available online.
MEYE relies on an algorithm that automatically recognizes pupils and measures their diameter. The researchers trained the algorithm to identify pupils in nearly 12,000 static grayscale images of human and mouse eyes captured with infrared cameras.
They then used the algorithm to analyze videos of mouse and human pupils that changed in size in response to auditory stimuli or flashes of light.
MEYE performed as accurately as the EyeLink 1000 Plus, a commercial eye tracker, as the study shows. And the web app ran at a higher frame rate than another open source tool commonly used for pupillometry called DeepLabCut, the researchers found.
MEYE runs on every common web browser. Users can analyze recorded images and video or live footage collected through a webcam.
The developers at MEYE made the web app in their spare time and have a long list of things they want to do next like MATLAB. And they want to adapt MEYE for use on cell phones.
The only thing you need for pupillometry is a flash and a good enough camera, says Mazziotti.
Quote this article: https://doi.org/10.53053/QTFW8070