Reaction time (RT) is one of the most frequently used measures to detect cognitive processes. When tasks require more cognitive processes/resources, reaction is slower. However, RTs may provide only restricted information regarding the temporal characteristics of cognitive processes. Pupils respond reflexively to light but also to cognitive activation. The more cognitive resources a task requires, the more the pupil dilates. However, despite being able to use temporal changes in pupil size (advanced devices measure changes in pupil diameter with sampling rates of above 1000 samples per second), most past studies using pupil dilation have not investigated temporal changes in pupil response. In the current paper, we discuss the advantage of the temporal approach to analyze pupil changes compared to a more traditional perspective, specifically, singular value methods such as mean value and peak amplitude value. Using data from two recent studies conducted in our laboratory, we demonstrate the differences in findings arising from the various analyses. In particular, we focus on the advantage of temporal analysis in detecting hidden effects, investigating temporal characterizations of the effects, and validating the experimental manipulation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)