Eye movement patterns during viewing face images with neutral expressions in patients with early-stage Alzheimer's disease and amnestic mild cognitive impairment

Eraslan Boz H., Koçoğlu K., Akkoyun M., Tüfekci I. Y., Ekin M., Akdal G.

Brain and Behavior, vol.13, no.11, 2023 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 13 Issue: 11
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1002/brb3.3232
  • Journal Name: Brain and Behavior
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, EMBASE, MEDLINE, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Keywords: Alzheimer's disease, amnestic mild cognitive impairment, eye movements, face processing, visual difficulties
  • Dokuz Eylül University Affiliated: Yes


Background: Alzheimer’s disease (AD) neuropathology affects the brain regions responsible for visuospatial skills. Accumulating evidence points to visual difficulties involving face processing in AD and amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI). No study has so far examined eye movement patterns when viewing faces with neutral expressions in patients with AD. Aim: The objective of this study aimed to examine the eye movements of patients with early-stage AD, aMCI, and healthy controls (HC) during viewing face images. Materials&Methods: Thirty-one AD, 37 aMCI, and 33 HC were included in the study. Eye movements in facial stimuli were recorded with the EyeLink 1000 Plus eye-tracker. Results: Our findings showed that AD patients looked less at the eye area of interest than the nose and mouth areas of interest compared to aMCI and HC. Regardless of the group, all participants looked at the eye and nose areas of interest more and longer in the mouth area of interest. In addition, the first fixation duration to the eye area of interest of all participants was shorter than that of the nose and mouth. Discussion: Consistent with our study, studies in healthy adults revealed eye movement patterns that focused more on the eyes and nose. AD patients are unable to pay attention to the salient parts of faces, tending to focus instead on the non-informative parts. Conclusion: Our study is the first to reveal eye movement differences in face processing in AD.