Assessment of Cognitive Impairment, such as Alzheimer’s Disease, Using Eye Tracking Technology

Assessment of Cognitive Impairment, such as Alzheimer’s Disease, Using Eye Tracking Technology

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is an irreversible, progressive neurodegenerative disease that slowly destroys brain cells, affecting memory, thinking and behavior. While there is no cure, treatments that could temporarily slow disease progression are available. Early diagnosis and timely intervention may make an impact on the quality of life of the affected individuals.  However, often, both diagnosis and disease progression is based on neuropsychological tests, like the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale-cognitive subscale (ADAS-Cog), symptoms and reports from caregivers. While MMMS and ADAS-Cog are well-validated tests, they take a long time (10-45 minutes) to administer and impose additional psychological stress on the subject. Thus, there is a high unmet need for simple, fast and objective measurements.

Studies dating back for more than 30 years have investigated the effectiveness of eye-tracking techniques as objective and non-invasive tools for the evaluation of different phases of AD, including mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and dementia [1-4]. Collectively, this research reports deficits in several eye-movements, including reflexive saccades, smooth pursuit, gaze and antisaccades. More recent data [4] show that this methodology can successfully distinguish between healthy controls, MCI and dementia patients. In this study, gaze measurements during tasks designed to assess specific neurological domains, such as deductive reasoning, working memory, attention, and memory recall, correlated well with scores from MMSE and ADAS-Cog tests. This encouraging data support eye-tracking methodologies as simple but highly sensitive screening tools for early detection and monitoring progression of AD.

To learn more about eye-tracking methods contact Neurolign at 1-800-895-7405.


1 Kahana Levy N, Lavidor M, Vakil E., Prosaccade and Antisaccade Paradigms in Persons with Alzheimer’s Disease: A Meta-Analytic Review. Neuropsychol Rev. 2018;28(1):16‐31. doi:10.1007/s11065-017-9362-4

2 Lim Jeremiah K.H. et al., The Eye As a Biomarker for Alzheimer’s Disease. Frontiers in Neuroscience. 2016;10:536. doi:10.3389/fnins.2016.00536

3 Crawford TJ, Devereaux A, Higham S, Kelly C. The disengagement of visual attention in Alzheimer’s disease: a longitudinal eye-tracking study. Front Aging Neurosci. 2015;7:118. Published 2015 Jun 23. doi:10.3389/fnagi.2015.00118

4 Oyama, A., Takeda, S., Ito, Y. et al. Novel Method for Rapid Assessment of Cognitive Impairment Using High-Performance Eye-Tracking Technology. Sci Rep 9, 12932 (2019).