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Detecting neurological injury and disease with a novel eye-tracking device (Ref: RDFC21/HLS/SER/STUART)

Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

Friday, June 04, 2021 Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Examination of eye movements is a central element of a neurological assessment. Clinicians rely upon subjective observation of eye movements, but reliance on clinical experience and judgement can lead to missed impairment or undiagnosed deficits. Technological progression has allowed eye-tracking devices to reduce in size and cost, which now allows clinicians to objectively assess eye movements accurately and quickly. Subtle eye movement metrics such as velocity, latency, gain, duration etc. that cannot be seen upon clinical inspection can be recorded using eye-tracking technology, giving almost immediate evidence of any abnormalities that may be present. Despite the accuracy and objective nature of eye-tracking technology it is not regularly used within clinics to examine for abnormalities in neurological populations, such as mild traumatic brain injury and Parkinson’s disease. Development of novel eye-tracking devices that can detect subtle neurological impairments will allow for improved diagnostic assessments, monitoring and aid with earlier intervention for issues.

This project aims to use, evaluate and inform the application of a novel eye-tracking device (iTremor) for assessment of neurological populations, such as mild traumatic brain injury and Parkinson’s disease.

The PhD candidate will benefit from working within a multidisciplinary team of clinicians (Dr Samuel Stuart, Dr Rosie Morris) and engineers (Dr Alan Godfrey). This is a collaborative project between an industry partner, Head Diagnostics, and Northumbria University, therefore the candidate will also benefit from industry experience.


The PhD candidate will;

• Coordinate with partners for use of the iTremor system

• Design and organise data collection in collaboration with relevant professionals

• Investigate the iTremor systems ability to differentiate and examine neurological populations


This project is relevant for individuals with clinical backgrounds (e.g. physiotherapist, medic etc.), as well as psychology, neuroscience, engineering/computer science or biomechanics graduates, ideally with experience of eye movement assessments and an interest in neurology.

Eligibility and How to Apply:

Please note eligibility requirement:

·      Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.

·      Appropriate IELTS score, if required.


For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see 


Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. RDFC21/…) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: 4th June 2021

Interviews: June 2021

Start Date: 1st October 2021

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. 

Funding Notes

The studentship is available to Home students with a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2021/22, this is £15,609 pa) and full Home fees.
Please note: to be classed as a Home student, candidates must meet the following criteria:
• Be a UK National (meeting residency requirements), or
• have settled status, or
• have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or
• have indefinite leave to remain or enter.


Stuart, S., Parrington, L., Martini, D., Peterka, R., Chesnutt, J. and King, L. ‘The measurement of eye movements in mild traumatic brain injury: a structured review of an emerging area’, Frontiers in Sports and Active living.
Stuart, S., Lawson, R., Yarnall, A., Nell, J., Alcock, L., Duncan, G., Khoo, T., Barker, R., Rochester, L. and Burn, D. (2019) ‘Pro-saccades predict cognitive decline in Parkinson’s disease: ICICLE-PD’, Movement Disorders.
Stuart, S., Parrington, L., Martini, D., Popa, B., Fino, P. and King, L. (2019) ‘Validation of a velocity-based algorithm to quantify saccades during walking and turning in mild traumatic brain injury and healthy controls’, Physiological Measurement.
Stuart, S., Hickey, A., Vitorio, R., Welman, K., Foo, S., Keen, D. and Godfrey, A. (2019) ‘Eye-tracker algorithms to detect saccades during static and dynamic tasks: a structured review’, Physiological Measurement.
Stuart, S., Lord, S., Galna, B. and Rochester, L. (2018) ‘Saccade frequency response to visual cues during gait in Parkinson’s disease: the selective role of attention’ European Journal of Neuroscience.
Morris, R., Lord, S., Lawson, R., Coleman, S., Galna, B., Duncan, G., Khoo, T., Yarnall, A., Burn, D., Rochester, L. (2017), ‘Gait Rather Than Cognition Predicts Decline in Specific Cognitive Domains in Early Parkinson's Disease’, The Journals of Gerontology Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences 72(12).
Stuart, S., Galna, B., Delicato, L.S., Lord, S. and Rochester, L. (2017) ‘Direct and indirect effects of attention and vision on gait impairment in Parkinson’s disease’, European Journal of Neuroscience, 46(1): 1703-1716.
Stuart, S., Alcock, L., Godfrey, A., Lord, S., Rochester, L., and Galna, B. (2016) ‘Accuracy and re-test relaibaility of mobile eye-tracking in Parkinson’s disease and older adults’, Medical Engineering and Physics, 38 (3), 308-315.
Stuart, S., Alcock, L., Galna, B., Lord, S. and Rochester, L. (2014) 'The measurement of visual sampling during real-world activity in Parkinson's disease and healthy controls: A structured literature review', Journal of Neuroscience Methods, 222, pp. 175-88.

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