Blinks of the eye predict blinks of the mind

Leiden University, Cognitive Psychology Unit & Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition, Leiden, The Netherlands.
Neuropsychologia (Impact Factor: 3.3). 12/2008; 46(13):3179-83. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2008.07.006
Source: PubMed


The Attentional Blink (AB)--a deficit in reporting the second of two target stimuli presented in close succession in a rapid sequence of distracters--has been related to individual processing limitations of working memory. Given the known role of dopamine (DA) in working memory processes, the present experiment tested the hypothesis that DA, and in particular the DA/D1 subsystem, plays a role in the AB. We present evidence that the spontaneous eyeblink rate (EBR), a functional marker of central dopaminergic function, reliably predicts the size of AB. Thus, in line with our hypothesis, these data point to a modulatory role for DA in the AB.

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Available from: Heleen Slagter
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    • "Consequently , eye blinking behaviour has been applied as an indicator for cognitive states related to the dopaminergic system (Barbato et al., 2012; Colzato et al., 2009). Subjects that show higher eye blink rates preceding an experimental session are more attentive in a subsequent cognitive task (Colzato et al., 2008) or demonstrate increased cognitive flexibility (Dreisbach et al., 2005). In the latter study, the relation of this effect to the dopaminergic system was even underlined by genetic analyses. "
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    ABSTRACT: Spontaneous eye-blinks occur much more often than it would be necessary to maintain the tear film on the eyes. Various factors like cognitive demand, task engagement, or fatigue are influencing spontaneous blink rate. During cognitive information processing there is evidence that blinks occur preferably at moments that can be assigned to input stream segmentation. We investigated blinking behavior in three different visual choice response experiments (Experiment 1: spatial Stimulus-Response correspondence, Experiment 2: Change Detection, Experiment 3: Continuous performance Test - AX version). Blinks during the experimental tasks were suppressed when new information was expected, as well as during cognitive processing until the response was executed. Blinks in go trials occurred within a short and relatively constant interval after manual responses. However, blinks were not a side effect of manual behavior, as they occurred in a similar manner in no-go trials in which no manual response was executed. In these trials, blinks were delayed when a prepared response had to be inhibited, compared to trials in which no response was intended. Additionally, time on task effects for no-go blinks mirrored those obtained in go trials. Thus, blinks seem to provide a reliable measure for cognitive processing beyond (or rather additional to) manual responses. © 2015, Leibniz Research Centre for Working Environment and Human Factors. All rights reserved.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2015 · EXCLI Journal
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    • "In [24], Slagter et al hypothesised that striatal dopamine level determines AB size in a U-shaped relationship, with high levels causing distractibility and low levels causing impaired updating. The same group proposed a psychophysiological method for detection of AB size by eye blink rate, based on the link between blink rate and dopamine [13] [7]. "
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    ABSTRACT: The psychophysiological method can be used to detect some simple cognitive states such as arousal, attentiveness, or mental workload. This approach can be especially interesting when cognition has some productive purpose, as in knowledge work, and tends to be related to human-computer interaction (HCI). However more interesting for applied purposes are acts of coordinated high-level cognition. High- level (or higher-order) cognition (HLC) is typically associated with decision making, problem solving, and executive control of cognition and action. Further, an intuitive approach for assessing whether someone is engaged in HLC is to measure their performance of a known task. Given this, it is reasonable to define high-performance cognition (HPC) as HLC under some performance restriction, such as real-time pressure or expert skill level. Such states are also interesting for HCI in work, and their detection represents an ambitious aim for using the psychophysiological method. We report a brief review of the literature on the topic.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2015
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    • "Pivik and Dykman (2004) showed that endogenous blinks are modulated by different types of stimulus presentation, the amount of cognitive load and response requirements. Another evidence for the interrelation of eye blinks and attention is that the size of the attentional blink can be predicted from the spontaneous eye blink rate (Colzato et al., 2008). "
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    ABSTRACT: In applied contexts, psychophysiological measures have a long tradition to evaluate the user state. EEG correlates that indicate mechanisms of information processing, however, are hardly accessible since discrete time stamps that are necessary for this approach are commonly not available in natural situations. However, eye blinks may close this gap. Eye blinks are assumed to mark distinct points in information processing, necessary to segment the incoming data stream. By using mobile EEG in a simulated working situation we demonstrate that eye-blink-related potentials provide reliable information about cognitive processing in distinct working environments. During cognitive tasks, an increase in the fronto-central N2 component as well as evoked theta activity can be shown, both indices of enhanced cognitive control. The posterior P3 is reduced during physical tasks (sorting of boxes), probably reflecting the more continuous nature of this task. The data are discussed within a model of dopaminergic modulation of blink activity that involves both task specific aspects like executive control and modulating influences of motivation or fatigue.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2013 · International journal of psychophysiology: official journal of the International Organization of Psychophysiology
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