Genes influence what we choose to look at

Published 2017-11-15 12:50. Updated 2017-11-15 12:54Denna sida på svenska

How we explore our world with our eyes can influence everything from social interaction to learning. In a study published in Current Biology researchers at Karolinska Institutet show that our eye movements are partly governed by our genes.

What we look at in a situation determines the visual information we access as well as the information we miss. Differences in viewing behaviour can therefore have a significant impact on how we interact socially, how we act in traffic or what we learn from the situations in which we find ourselves. 

To discover more about how such differences can arise, researchers at Karolinska Institutet, Indiana University and Uppsala University studied 223 twins between the ages of 10 and 14, half of whom were identical. The researchers showed the participants 80 images of varying content while studying their eye movements in the three seconds for which each image was shown.

“The images had either social or non-social content, as we wanted a representative selection of environments that people encounter in life,” says Terje Falck-Ytter, researcher at Karolinska Institutet’s Center of Neurodevelopmental Disorders (KIND).

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GeneticsNeuropsychiatryTwin research