Gibbons Student Eric Mercado ’18: Tracking Eyes to Better Understand Memory


Eric Mercado ’18 is working with a computer scientist and a neuroscientist this summer, developing an experimental eye-tracking test might shed light on how memory works.

The experimental part of the research has Mercado administering a visual memory test to volunteer students in the lab of Assistant Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology Erika Nyhus. The subjects are asked to look at a series of 10 slides that have four images placed on the four corners of the screen. Then they’re presented with just one of these images, and are asked to recall on which of the screen’s four corners did they first see it. Throughout, the students’ eye movements are recorded. Mercado said he and Nyhus are interested in knowing whether the position of the image on the screen affects memory.

Mercado, a computer science and neuroscience major, is also, with help from Visiting Assistant Professor of Computer Science Allen Harper, using algorithms to find the one with the best prediction rate between eye movements and memory.

The implications of this research could interest web marketers, who might like to know whether screen location affects how well website visitors remember their product, Mercado explained.