CCN meeting | Sebastiaan Mathôt (University of Groningen, the Netherlands)

17-10-2019 from 15:00 to 16:00
Henri Dunantlaan 2, room 4.2
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Central vision, peripheral vision, and light-independent pupil size

Even when luminance and distance-to-fixation are kept constant, the size of the pupil continuously changes. For example, when something captures attention, the pupil briefly dilates as part of the so-called orienting response. Pupil size also reflects the extent to which someone is focused (small pupils) or distractable (larger pupils). But the function of these light-independent pupil responses is still poorly understood. In this talk, I will discuss several recent studies in which we have investigated light-independent pupil responses, and I will outline a general (yet incomplete) functional interpretation. Specifically, I propose that the pupil dilates when attention is disengaged from the current object (or task) in order to enhance sensitivity in peripheral vision, at the expense of visual acuity in central vision. (But not, or hardly, at the expense of acuity in peripheral vision, which is inherently poor.)