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Genetics Impacts How Kids Explore The World Visually

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A latest study that tracked the eye movement of twins found that genetics plays a strong role in how people explore the environment visually.

The study offers a new angle on the emergence of differences between individuals and the integration of genetic and environmental factors in social, emotional and cognitive development.

This is significant because visual exploration is also one of the first ways infants interact with the environment, before they can reach or crawl.

“People recognise that gaze is important,” said Daniel Kennedy, Assistant Professor at Indiana University Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences in the US.

“Our eyes are moving constantly, roughly three times per second. We are always seeking out information and actively engaged with our environment, and ultimately where you look affects your development,” Kennedy said.

The researchers compared the eye movements of 466 children 233 pairs of twins (119 identical and 114 fraternal) between ages 9 and 14 as each child looked at 80 snapshots of scenes people might encounter in daily life, half of which included people.

Using an eye tracker, the researchers then measured the sequence of eye movements in both space and time as each child looked at the scene.

Published in the journal Current Biology, the study found a strong similarity in gaze patterns within sets of identical twins, who tended to look at the same features of a scene in the same order.

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