Pomè, A., Binda, P., Cicchini, G.M., Burr. D.C. (2020).

Pupillometry correlates of visual priming, and their dependency on autistic traits

Journal of Vision 2020;20(3):3

https://doi.org/10.1167/jovi.20.3.3 Download

In paradigms of visual search where the search feature (say color) can change from trial to trials, responses are faster for trials where the search color is repeated than when it changes. This is a clear example of “priming” of attention. Here we test whether the priming effects can be revealed by pupillometry, and also whether they are related to autistic-like personality traits, as measured by the Autism-Spectrum Quotient (AQ). We repeated Maljkovic and Nakayama's (1994) classic priming experiment, asking subjects to identify rapidly the shape of a singleton target defined by color. As expected, reaction times were faster when target color repeated, and the effect accumulated over several trials; but the magnitude of the effect did not correlate with AQ. Reaction times were also faster when target position was repeated, again independent of AQ. Presentation of stimuli caused the pupil to dilate, and the magnitude of dilation was greater for switched than repeated trials. This effect did not accumulate over trials, and did not correlate with the reaction times difference, suggesting that the two indexes measure independent aspects of the priming phenomenon. Importantly, the amplitude of pupil modulation correlated negatively with AQ, and was significant only for those participants with low AQ. The results confirm that pupillometry can track perceptual and attentional processes, and furnish useful information unobtainable from standard psychophysics, including interesting dependencies on personality traits.