Title:
Pupillary responses to simple difficulty cues

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Trani, Alexandra Nicole
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Verhaeghen, Paul
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Abstract
Increases in emotional arousal and attention control simultaneously enhance activity in the sympathetic nervous system and cause pupils to dilate. Additionally, the pupil has been shown to be sensitive to changes in task demands – changes that would also influence emotional arousal and attention control. Difficulty cues may improve performance by helping people efficiently prepare to meet task demands. In this study, I presented people with simple difficulty cues (i.e., easy, medium, or hard) to elicit preparatory attention control. I hypothesized that pupil size would be larger while viewing cues indicative of harder trials and this difference in pupil size would be associated with better performance. Pupil size during the difficulty cue was unrelated to accuracy and appears to be the same despite differences in cue content. I hypothesized that end-of-trial pupil size would increase with trial difficulty and differences in pupil size may relate to trial performance. End-of-trial pupil size increased with difficulty and was found to relate to trial performance.
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2016-11-15
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