Task repetition influence on pupil response during encoding of auditory information in normal-hearing adults
Although numerous behavioural measures to estimate listening effort have been developed in recent years using free recall or dual-task paradigms, relatively little is known about physiological measures, such as pupil dilation, in response to cognitively demanding tasks. This study used a repeated-measure experimental design and aimed to investigate the cognitive resource allocation process of spoken words in an immediate free recall paradigm. Here, ten adults with normal hearing (NH) attended 2 days of trials with 14 trials per day. The listeners heard four-speaker babble noise along with seven sentences and then tried to remember the first words of all seven sentences. Recall performance on the first day only showed a significant serial position effect (p < 0.05). With increasing memory load imposed by the subsequent recall task, baseline pupil size significantly enlarged (p < 0.01), and the PPDs significantly decreased (p < 0.01) during the encoding process, implying that a gradual increase in resources allocated to memory capacity corresponded to a decline in resources allocated to listening. Real-time allocation of cognitive resources during the encoding of spoken words can be monitored independently by the analysis of pupil dilation averaged over multiple trials.
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