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Journal Article

Microsaccade-rate indicates absorption by music listening


Lange,  Elke B.
Department of Music, Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, Max Planck Society;

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Lange, E. B., Zweck, F., & Sinn, P. (2017). Microsaccade-rate indicates absorption by music listening. Consciousness and Cognition, 55, 59-78. doi:10.1016/j.concog.2017.07.009.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-EAD9-3
The power of music is a literary topos, which can be attributed to intense and personally significant experiences, one of them being the state of absorption. Such phenomenal states are difficult to grasp objectively. We investigated the state of musical absorption by using eye tracking. We utilized a load related definition of state absorption: multimodal resources are committed to create a unified representation of music. Resource allocation was measured indirectly by microsaccade rate, known to indicate cognitive processing load. We showed in Exp. 1 that microsaccade rate also indicates state absorption. Hence, there is cross-modal coupling between an auditory aesthetic experience and fixational eye movements. When removing the fixational stimulus in Exp. 2, saccades are no longer generated upon visual input and the cross-modal coupling disappeared. Results are interpreted in favor of the load hypothesis of microsaccade rate and against the assumption of general slowing by state absorption.