The Eyes Have It!

"Orpheus called the eyes, the looking glasses of nature: Hesichius, the doores for the Sunne to enter in by: Alexander the Peripatecian, the windowes of the mind, because that by the eyes we doe cleerely see what is in the same, we pearce into the deepe thoughts thereof, and enter into the privities of his secret chamber." (Du Laurens 1596; cited in Wade & Tatler 2005, p. 1)


The study of eye movements is of great scientific importance for a number of reasons. Experimental psychologists and neuroscientists, for example, measure eye movements to better understand cognitive processes such as visual attention and their implementation in the brain. Oculography is also applied in clinical settings, such as psychiatry and neurology, to characterise the neuropathology of various clinical conditions. Finally, eye-tracking has become an increasingly popular and widely used method of registering perceptual and attentional processing as well as behavioural preferences in applied settings such as ergonomics, (neuro-)marketing, traffic psychology and usability. Overall, the study of oculomotor control and the application of its methods is an exciting and scientifically highly productive interdisciplinary adventure. 

The European Summer School on Eye Movements (ESSEM) was first held in 2013 at the University of Bonn (organisers: Ulrich Ettinger, Christoph Klein). ESSEM was again held in Freiburg in 2014 (organisers: Christoph Klein, Ulrich Ettinger) and in Athens in 2016 (organisers: Nikolaos Smyrnis, Ulrich Ettinger, Christoph Klein).

ESSEM focusses on the joint elaboration of the scientific foundations of oculomotor research and its applications in clinical and industrial settings. The aim of the summer school is to bring together experienced eye movement researchers and junior scientists from different countries in order to teach the contents and methods of oculomotor research in lectures, discuss them together in discussion groups and elaborate them in depth in small groups and workshops. Content-wise, this interdisciplinary summer school deals with the (neuro)scientific bases, perceptual and cognitive components, techniques, psychophysiological correlates and biological, clinical, developmental and social aspects of eye movements as well as applications of relevant methods and findings.

Lecturer and Participant Feedback on Previous ESSEMs

"Thank you very much again for a great first ESSEM school, and I look forward to future instances!"

"I would like to thank you again for organizing this magnificent summer school. I enjoyed my stay enormously, I leartned a lot and I had the unique opportunity to meet with colleauges from all over the world and get to know them better. The students were really excellent and the hospitality was just great. I think everybody recognized just how much work you and your team have put into organizing this event and we are all very greatful. I think this will become a major European event in cognitive neuroscience in the years to come if our future commitment matches the standards you already set.
Thanks again for your invitation"

"Thanks again for inviting me and for the wonderful time."

"Thank you for the very well organized summer school. It was a pleasure to be there."

"THanks to you both for setting the summer school up and inviting me.
i really enjoyed spending some time with you both, and listening to the talks. […]
i think these kinds of meetings are really a good way to develop frienships with wider nets of people, and then to be able to share ideas and papers and such, and develop some collaboratoins that move us forward faster than we can on our own. i look forward to that with you both."

"Thank you so much again for inviting me to participate in ESSEM, and for being such wonderful hosts!!! I had the greatest time, and would love to do it again -- Congratulations on an extremely successful and well organized program!"

"I really enjoyed it and well done for organising such an instructive workshop."

"I had such an awesome time! Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to take part in this interesting, inspiring and intellectually stimulating summer school program! Moreover, it was great to meet so many nice people!"

"Just that I would like to send my congratulations to the organisers and the supporting team for running such a fantastic school. The conference dinner, including the talk from Angelika Böck, and the Russian band, were also an absolutely fabulous way of finishing things off!"

"The quality of the lectures was very high, I have really appreciated all of them."

"Overall, incredibly well structured and thought out. Very coherent development over the week."
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