My main research interests are in eye-tracking methodology, how eye movements change as a function of expertise, and how this relates to differences in visual and cognitive processing. For example, it is often the case that experts are able to recognise and fixate task-relevant areas quicker than novices. One of my main research goals is to uncover how the visual system accommodates these changes in task-specific processing. I am also interested in how the eyes can attract and direct an observers attention. Although the reflexive nature of gaze-following has been well documented in the recent surge of gaze-cueing studies, my own research has tried to examine guided attention in more complex, real-world tasks, using scanpath overlays.
My PhD research at Lancaster University also examined whether the expertise-related differences in eye movement behaviour were substantial enough to lead differential benefits when shown to skilled and unskilled observers. This research explored the communicative role of eye movement behaviour and whether another person's eye movements could influence observer performance on real-world visual search and problem solving tasks. For example, using a Jackknife Free Response ROC (JAFROC) methodology to assess radiological decision performance, I carried out a series of studies to examine whether the search behaviour of an expert or a novice observer could guide observers attention towards pulmonary nodules in chest x-ray inspection and lead to a better a diagnosis of abnormalities. This collaborative work between the University of Cumbria's School of Medical Imaging Sciences and the Lancaster University Psychology Department allowed us to determine whether the type of joint attention necessary for learning is possible using artificially represented gaze, and how eye gaze can be used in computer-mediated communication.
For my post-doctoral research at the University of Cumbria I investigated how the early visual processing of visual scenes contributes to where we look during visual search tasks. By employing gaze-contingent eye movement paradigms that control how much information is perceived, the current research examines whether experts are more likely than novices to recognise features and deploy search strategies based on the global information encapsulated within the initial gist of image viewing.