Fast eye movements linked to impulsive decisions
The speed of eye movements may affect humans’ level of patience and decision-making abilities, according to a new study.
Scientists from Johns Hopkins University monitored healthy volunteers’ saccades—motions the eyes make when they switch focus between objects. The researchers first monitored the volunteers’ saccades by using a camera to record eye movements between dots on a screen. The researchers then tested the volunteers’ patience levels by instructing them to look in a certain direction on the screen while the dots appeared and disappeared.
The findings, published in The Journal of Neuroscience, showed that the participants with the fastest eye movements were less willing to wait for instructions than those with slower eye movements.
The study’s findings suggest that making decisions is linked to the way the nervous system evaluates time and reward and could provide insight into why decision-making is more difficult for people with brain injuries or neurological disorders. Changes in impulsivity is a symptom of various conditions, including schizophrenia and depression, so further research on in that area is seen as being important for developing more effective treatments.