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Int J Psychophysiol. 2018 Jan;123:152-162. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2017.09.016. Epub 2017 Oct 7.

Eyes have ears: Indexing the orienting response to sound using pupillometry.

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Université Laval, Québec, Canada. Electronic address:
Université Laval, Québec, Canada.


The rare occurrence of a sound deviating from the auditory background tends to trigger attentional orienting. While some sympathetic physiological responses can be used to index this orienting response, findings surrounding the pupillary dilation response (PDR) as a proxy for the orienting response are conflicting. The current study was tailor-designed to examine whether the PDR satisfies specific criteria of an orienting response index, namely the classic habituation pattern and a sensitivity to the size of the deviation. The PDR decrement to a repeated standard sound, recovery to a deviant sound, and dishabituation to the re-presentation of the standard were assessed for small and large deviations embedded in irrelevant auditory sequences. The PDR not only showed habituation and dishabituation, but also recovered in correspondence with the magnitude of the acoustic deviation. This consistency between variations of the PDR and orienting response's properties indicates that the PDR is a valid index of the auditory orienting response.


Attention capture; Auditory deviation; Habituation; Orienting response; Pupillary response

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