Pupil Dilation Could Indicate The “Aha Moment”

Pupil Dilation Could Indicate The “Aha Moment”

A new study out of Japan suggests that pupil dilation is directly related to the moment when a person has a mental breakthrough. Researchers hope this study will encourage further research into the interesting connections between our brains and our eyes.

For this study, Toyohashi University of Technology scientists took a group of study participants and showed them a video with an object that only slowly became clear. Investigators asked each participant to tell them the exact moment they could make out the object on the screen.

While the study participants were watching the screen, researchers carefully tracked each person’s eyes. The objective of this test was to see whether pupil dilation matched the time when the participant announced s/he knew what the object was.

Amazingly, study authors found that each participant’s eyes dilated at the exact moment before they discovered what the object was. In their study, researchers were careful to note that it didn’t matter how much a person subjectively believed s/he was about to tell the correct answer.

Typically when scientists look into the biological basis for an epiphany they look at MRI scans of a patient’s brain. This Japanese study is one of the first to look specifically at how pupil dilation relates to mental breakthroughs. Scientists hope their research will inspire further discoveries in how our eyes are connected to our neural pathways.

Yuta Suzuki, a PhD student at Toyohashi University, was the head author on this study. The other key researchers involved in this study include Tetsuto Minami and Shigeki Nakauchi.

Anyone who wants to learn more about this research should check out the latest edition of Scientific Reports. This study was listed under the title, “Association between pupil dilation and implicit processing prior to object recognition via insight.”

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