Lateral asymmetries of pupillary responses

Cortex. 1998 Dec;34(5):753-62. doi: 10.1016/s0010-9452(08)70778-0.


We wanted to learn if pupillary changes induced by looking and attending to stimuli on the right and left are asymmetrical. In humans, there are hemispheric asymmetries in the control of attention-arousal systems. Because attention and arousal may influence pupil size, asymmetric pupillary responses may be seen when looking and attending in different directions. Twelve right-handed, healthy volunteers served as subjects. Using infrared pupillography, we recorded changes of pupillary diameter while subjects were looking and attending to the stimuli on the right and left sides of space. For the one second following a saccade, there are three phasic pupillary responses, an initial constriction (C1) then a dilation (D1), followed by constriction (C2). Evaluation of these three responses revealed right-left asymmetries with more pupil dilation (D1) when looking to the stimulus on the right. Our results suggest that subjects are more aroused when looking to the right than when looking to the left.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arousal / physiology
  • Cues
  • Female
  • Fixation, Ocular / physiology
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Reflex, Pupillary / physiology*