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Paola Binda, Maria Pereverzeva, Scott O. Murray; Pupil constrictions to photographs of the sun. Journal of Vision 2013;13(6):8. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/13.6.8.
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The pupil constricts in response to light increments and dilates with light decrements. Here we show that a picture of the sun, introducing a small overall decrease in light level across the field of view, results in a pupillary constriction. Thus, the pictorial representation of a high-luminance object (the sun) can override the normal pupillary dilation elicited by a light decrement. In a series of experiments that control for a variety of factors known to modulate pupil size, we show that the effect (a) does not depend on the retinal position of the images and (b) is modulated by attention. It has long been known that cognitive factors can affect pupil diameter by producing pupillary dilations. Our results indicate that high-level visual analysis (beyond the simple subcortical system mediating the pupillary response to light) can also induce pupillary constriction, with an effect size of about 0.1 mm.
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