Is accommodation a confounder in pupillometry research?

L. Kooijman, D. Dodou, S. T. Jansen, T. S. Themans, J. N.M. Russell, S. M. Petermeijer, J. R.C. Doorman, J. H. Hablé, D. S. Neubert, M. J.C. Vos, J. C.F. de Winter

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Abstract

Much psychological research uses pupil diameter measurements to investigate the cognitive and emotional effects of visual stimuli. A potential problem is that accommodating at a nearby point causes the pupil to constrict. This study examined to what extent accommodation is a confounder in pupillometry research. Participants solved multiplication problems at different distances (Experiment 1) and looked at line drawings with different monocular depth cues (Experiment 2) while their pupil diameter, refraction, and vergence angle were recorded using a photorefractor. Experiment 1 showed that the pupils dilated while performing the multiplications, for all presentation distances. Pupillary constriction due to accommodation was not strong enough to override pupil dilation due to cognitive load. Experiment 2 showed that monocular depth cues caused a small shift in refraction in the expected direction. We conclude that, for the young student sample we used, pupil diameter measurements are not substantially affected by accommodation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108046
Number of pages13
JournalBiological Psychology
Volume160
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords

  • Apparent depth
  • Cognitive load
  • Mental demands
  • Near triad
  • Pupil dilation
  • Pupillary near reflex

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