What is the relation between musical features and spontaneous or restricted blink activity?
Spontaneous eye blinks are known to occur at structurally salient breaks during reading and speech, to become synchronized between speakers, and to be indicators of cognitive event chunking. As such, we hypothesized that eyeblink activity should also show a systematic relationship to music. The aim of our study is to determine whether eyeblink activity (a) is synchronized across people listening to the same music, and (b) relates to acoustic features of the music (e.g., analyzed by the MIR toolbox) and salient moments in music (e.g., defined by expert ratings). Participants (N = 32) listened to fifty-nine ~60 sec clips of instrumental music from a variety of genres (rock, hip hop, classical, etc.) while fixating and being eye-tracked. No instructions were provided to refrain from blinking. Eyes were tracked binocularly (Eyelink1000, sampling rate 500Hz). After each music trial, participants rated their felt valence, arousal, liking, absorption, mind-wandering, and urge to move (groove). Interspersed silent trials served as a control condition for blinking activity. Analyses are ongoing and will be compared with data from two earlier experiments (N = 31 & N = 34, 56 clips of instrumental music), in which participants were asked to reduce blinking to optimize eye recordings.