Changes in pupil dilation and P300 amplitude indicate the possible involvement of the locus coeruleus-norepinephrine (LC-NE) system in psychological flow

Hairong Lu*, Dimitri van der Linden, Arnold B Bakker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Psychological flow is a state of full task immersion. The present study was conducted to test the hypothesis that psychological flow is positively related to activity of the phasic locus coeruleus-norepinephrine (LC-NE) system, which supports decisions on whether to engage in or disengage from the current activity. Subjective flow was assessed among 36 participants who engaged in a gamified version of the n-back task with various difficulty levels (0, 1, 2, and 3 back). During the tasks, continuous pupil diameter and EEG were recorded. We found that psychological flow and two presumed indicators of the phasic LC-NE activity (pupil dilation and EEG P300 amplitude) fit inverted U-shapes with increasing subjective task difficulty. Moreover, a positive linear relationship between psychological flow and pupil dilation (not with P300) was found. In conclusion, this study indicates the involvement of the LC-NE system in the peak experience of flow.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1908
JournalScientific Reports
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 2023

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© 2023. The Author(s).

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