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The neural correlates of linguistically evoked pupil responses

Ivanov, Yavor (2019) The neural correlates of linguistically evoked pupil responses. Research Project 2 (major thesis), Behavioural and Cognitive Neurosciences.


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Research shows that the comprehension of words conveying a sense of brightness or darkness constricts or dilates the pupils. This semantic Pupil Light Response (sPLR) is believed to happen as a result of sensory imagery occurring during semantic processing. However, little is known about the cognitive architecture driving such pupil responses. To investigate this, we concurrently recording electrophysiological signals and pupil size while participants heard words inducing a sense of brightness or darkness. We found that pupil size during word comprehension may be correlated with activity over frontal electrodes in a time-window of 300-1200 ms. This broad timing can indicate a range of different types of cognitive processing. Therefore, the present task does not allow us to pinpoint the neural substrates of the sPLR. Nevertheless, the correlation was strongest during the N400 time-window, suggesting that semantic processing may indeed have played a role in modulating pupil size. In general, we show a proof-of-concept that the method of correlating pupil size and electrophysiological signals can be used to learn more about cognition.

Item Type: Thesis (Research Project 2 (major thesis))
Supervisor name: Mathot, S.
Degree programme: Behavioural and Cognitive Neurosciences
Thesis type: Research Project 2 (major thesis)
Language: English
Date Deposited: 13 Nov 2019
Last Modified: 14 Nov 2019 18:10

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