Simpson Receives Grant for Eye Tracking Equipment

Simpson College’s newest major – Neuroscience – will now be able to offer students and faculty members the opportunity to study eye movements and how the brain processes visual information.

The Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust has awarded Simpson $50,000 to purchase eye-tracking equipment for teaching and research.

This is exciting news for Simpson, said Don Evans, chair of the Psychology department and director of the Neuroscience program.

“This equipment precisely measures what a person’s eyes are focused on at any given instant,” he said. “Our eyes are constantly moving. We actually process only a small portion of what we see, and our eyes zero in on the items that are most important at the moment.”

As a result, he added, “eye tracking helps us understand how the brain selects and processes information. The ability to track eye movements will help us study reading problems, distractions such as texting and driving, and possibly questions related to aging or head injury.”

Chris Goodale, Senior Advancement Officer, said the grant is the latest example of the long friendship between Simpson College and the Carver Charitable Trust.

In the spring of 2010, the Carver Trust provided a $95,000 grant to purchase an atomic force microscope. In addition to funds for equipment, the Carver Trust gives Simpson an annual scholarship of $7,500, which is coordinated through the Iowa College Foundation.

Evans said the eye-tracking equipment is portable and easy to operate, which means it will be available to several faculty members and undergraduates for research projects and classroom instruction.

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