According to a new American study, doctors could soon use pupil measurements to understand how people are coping with stress.
University of Missouri scientists brought study participants into a room designed to look like a control room at a power plant. All of these participants were tasked with monitoring energy gauges on two screens while sirens blared at random intervals.
Researchers added more tasks and increased distractions throughout the course of the study. All the while, analysts were monitoring each participant’s pupil dilation.
After reviewing the study data, analysts discovered a clear correlation between a patient’s pupil dilation and the amount of tasks s/he was required to complete. The larger the fractal dimension of a person’s pupils, the more duties s/he had.
Study authors believe this finding could have huge implications in many sectors including education, health care, and management. Employers could measure their employees’ pupils to increase productivity and reduce worker fatigue.
Professors at the University of Missouri are already planning future studies to get a better sense of this correlation between stress and pupil dilation. In addition to studying the pupils, researchers are interested in looking at how the heart, muscles, and certain nerves react to extreme multi-tasking.
The lead researchers on this project were Drs. Xiaonan Yang and Jung Hyup Kim. Both of these professors work at the University of Missouri’s Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering.
To read this study in full, pick up a copy of the International Journal of Human–Computer Interaction. This paper was listed under the title, “Measuring Workload in a Multitasking Environment Using Fractal Dimension of Pupil Dilation.”