Is pupil size a marker of beat perception?

Is pupil size a marker of beat perception?

  • English language proficiency required
  • Amsterdam

Website Music Cognition Group (MCG), ILLC, UvA

Beat perception is the cognitive skill that allows us to hear a regular pulse in music to which we can then synchronize. Perceiving this regularity in music allows us to dance and make music together. As such, it can be considered a fundamental musical trait (Honing, 2012). Beat perception could be explained by Dynamic Attending Theory (DAT), which proposes that attention synchronizes to an external rhythm (Jones, 2018). In line with this theory, several EEG and modelling studies suggest that beat and meter perception arises from groups of neurons that resonate or oscillate at beat frequency (Lenc et al., 2021).

Recently, it has been suggested that pupil size could be used as a marker of beat perception (Damsma et al., 2017; Fink et al., 2018). However, whether pupil size actually reflects oscillatory brain activity during rhythm perception is unclear. The aim of this Master project is to test this hypothesis by investigating whether beat-related frequencies are enhanced in the pupil signal, and by disentangling oscillatory pupil dilation from sound-evoked responses (Doelling et al., 2019).

We are looking for an excellent and skilled Master student who will 1) analyze existing pilot pupil data; 2) set up a new eye tracking experiment and test participants; 3) analyze the results of this experiment. The project will lead to a Master thesis.

– BSc in Psychology, AI, or related field
– Experience with signal analysis in time and frequency domain (e.g., pupil dilation or EEG)
– Skilled user of R and/or Matlab
– Interest in music and rhythm cognition

Contact: dr A. Damsma
Starting date: Semester 2, 2021/22 or earlier

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