N400 amplitude reduction correlates with an increase in pupil size



Kuipers JR & Thierry G (2011) N400 amplitude reduction correlates with an increase in pupil size. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 5, Art. No.: 61.

Pupil dilation is classically associated with increase in cognitive load in humans. Here, we studied the potential link between human pupil dilation and meaning integration effort as indexed by event-related brain potentials (ERPs). We recorded pupil size variation and ERPs simultaneously while participants were presented with matching or unrelated picture-word pairs. Whilst relatedness in meaning between spoken words and pictures typically modulated ERPs, pupil size was also affected quickly after picture onset. Moreover, during the time-window associated with meaning integration, greater pupil dilation correlated with less negative N400 amplitudes elicited by unrelated pictures. Since pupil dilation has been linked to activity of the locus coeruleus-norepinephrine (LC-NE) system, these findings may provide new insights into the suggested link between human high-level cognitive function and activity of the LC-NE system.

event-related potentials; pupil dilation; N400; semantic processing; locus coeruleus; ERP; cognitive efficiency; LC–NE system

Frontiers in Human Neuroscience: Volume 5

Publication date30/06/2011
PublisherFrontiers Research Foundation

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Dr Jan Rouke Kuipers

Dr Jan Rouke Kuipers

Lecturer in Psychology, Psychology