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The role of pupil size

Fig.1. “The role of Pupil Size,” by Eckhard H. Hess; SCIENTIFIC. AMERICAN, April, 1965].

I am reeading about the origins of this study thanks to a recommended read ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’ by Daniel Kahneman. I ma intrigued as I first came across this age 15 in the popular book of the mid 1970’s ‘Manwatching’ by the anthropologist Desmond Morris. My mother, in her wisdom, gave it to me – perhaps in the absence of a father to give ‘fatherly advice’ about life and love. It ked to my spending a good deal of time staring into a girl’s eyes to fathom if they liked me or not. Here it related to concentration – it has alwyas struck me that placed infront if any kind of learning so people come away having taken on a great deal more than others. The ability to focu, to shut out distraction and to concentrate, has to have something to do with it. My mind’s natural response isn’t simoly to wander, but for much that is in front of me to trigger all kinds of ideas that beg for attention – I’ve made a virtue of it – I would call myself an ‘ideas person’.

In relation to any learning – experiential, read and report, learn and test, video or interactive – unles, surely, there is engagement, a desire to learn, a level of focu, then no matter how ‘smart’ the learning it won’t stick.

I remember being asked to complete a piece of health and safety training which I was told would take an hour and that I could break off and take a few hours over it. Rather it became a mental obstacle course and I pressed on, knowing that to pass each stage I would need to have picked up what had gone before. I passed in the hour. But what might I recall a day or a week later? Too fast, too easy?

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