Side Projects :: Technology meets social science.

Eye Tracking.


Screenshot from Track-It

A child's environment presents it with a wealth of input that can inform learning; however, not all input is equally informative because some stimuli are preferentially attended to. How do young learners selectively allocate attention to visual input, and how does this selectivity influence learning?

In collaboration with psychologists, I am developing Track-It, a modular, open source software suite created specifically to investigate mechanisms of sustained selective attention with young children. Track-It presents the participant with a grid and a target object moving on the grid along a random trajectory. Participants are asked to visually track the target and identify the grid location last visited by the target before it disappears. The moving target in this task can be accompanied by distracters, also moving along a random trajectory. Track-It tracks participants' gaze trajectories and can be used to compare trajectories based on a variety of features.

For more information, visit the official Track-It website. Clone the source code from GitHub if you're interested in adding your own features!

Representative Publications

  • Doebel, S., Dickerson, J.P., Hoover, J.D. and Munakata, Y. 2018. Using language to get ready: Familiar labels help children to engage proactive control. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. (2018). [link]
  • Erickson, L.C., Thiessen, E.D., Godwin, K.E., Dickerson, J.P. and Fisher, A.V. 2015. Endogenously- and Exogenously-driven Selective Sustained Attention: Contributions to Learning in Kindergarten Children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. (2015). [link]
  • Erickson, L.C., Godwin, K., Dickerson, J.P., Thiessen, E.D. and Fisher, A.V. 2015. Different mechanisms for regulating sustained attention and learning in children. Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) (2015). [link]
  • Erickson, L.C., Thiessen, E.D., Godwin, K.E., Dickerson, J.P. and Fisher, A.V. 2014. Endogenously- but not Exogenously-driven Selective Sustained Attention is Related to Learning in a Classroom-like Setting in Kindergarten Children. Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci) (2014). [link]
  • Fisher, A.V., Thiessen, E.D., Dickerson, J.P. and Erickson, L.C. 2013. Development of Selective Sustained Attention: Conceptual and Measurement Issues. Biennial Meeting of the Cognitive Development Society (CDS) (2013). [link]
  • Fisher, A., Thiessen, E., Godwin, K., Kloos, H. and Dickerson, J.P. 2013. Assessing selective sustained attention in 3- to 5-year-old children: Evidence from a new paradigm. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 113, (2013). [link]
  • Thiessen, E.D., Dickerson, J.P., Erickson, L.C. and Fisher, A.V. 2012. Eyes as the windows of cognition: The Track-It paradigm and selective attention. SRCD Themed Meeting on Developmental Methodology (2012). [link]

Social Networking (with Gorillas).


Gorilla groups maintain a strict social hierarchy; interactions between gorillas of the same group and gorillas of different groups have enormous effects on group composition and structure. With the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International and the University of Maryland, I am investigating how interactions between gorillas propagate through intra- and inter-group social networks induced by gorilla actions, locations, ages, and other features. We are trying to quantify answers to questions about gorilla emigration and the centrality (relative importance) of specific gorillas.

Representative Publications

Coming soon! Papers are in preparation.

Gorilla with infant.