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Egor Ananyev, Jit Wei A. Ang, Gerrit Maus; The influence of eye blinks on attention in a spatial cueing paradigm. Journal of Vision 2020;20(11):478. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.11.478.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Humans blink approximately 20 times per minute, much more than seems to be physiologically necessary. The eye blink rate also varies depending on the task and cognitive demand, suggesting a link between eye blinks and attention. Here, we investigate this using a classical spatial cueing paradigm (Posner, 1978). Participants were prompted to blink in the period between a spatial cue and the target (presentation sequence: cue – blink – target; CTOA range of 640 to 900 ms). This was compared with two control conditions: no blinks and artificial blinks (shutter goggles). The spatial cues were either unpredictive (50% valid) or predictive (75% valid) of the subsequent target’s location, corresponding to involuntary and voluntary attention, respectively. When the cue was unpredictive, there was a slowing of the response to the target in the validly cued location (Inhibition of Return), regardless of the blink condition. However, when the cue was predictive, blinks were associated with a shortened reaction time to the validly cued target compared to the control conditions. Furthermore, the spatial cueing benefit increased with longer eye blinks. These results suggest that blinks affect top-down, voluntary attentional engagement.
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