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Nat Neurosci. 2012 Jun 3;15(7):1040-6. doi: 10.1038/nn.3130.

Rational regulation of learning dynamics by pupil-linked arousal systems.

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1
Department of Neuroscience, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

Abstract

The ability to make inferences about the current state of a dynamic process requires ongoing assessments of the stability and reliability of data generated by that process. We found that these assessments, as defined by a normative model, were reflected in nonluminance-mediated changes in pupil diameter of human subjects performing a predictive-inference task. Brief changes in pupil diameter reflected assessed instabilities in a process that generated noisy data. Baseline pupil diameter reflected the reliability with which recent data indicate the current state of the data-generating process and individual differences in expectations about the rate of instabilities. Together these pupil metrics predicted the influence of new data on subsequent inferences. Moreover, a task- and luminance-independent manipulation of pupil diameter predictably altered the influence of new data. Thus, pupil-linked arousal systems can help to regulate the influence of incoming data on existing beliefs in a dynamic environment.

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PMID:
22660479
PMCID:
PMC3386464
DOI:
10.1038/nn.3130
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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