Orienting versus inhibition: The theory behind the ocular-based Concealed Information Test

Nathalie klein Selle*, Kristina Suchotzki, Yoni Pertzov, Matthias Gamer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


When trying to conceal one's knowledge, various ocular changes occur. However, which cognitive mechanisms drive these changes? Do orienting or inhibition—two processes previously associated with autonomic changes—play a role? To answer this question, we used a Concealed Information Test (CIT) in which participants were either motivated to conceal (orienting + inhibition) or reveal (orienting only) their knowledge. While pupil size increased in both motivational conditions, the fixation and blink CIT effects were confined to the conceal condition. These results were mirrored in autonomic changes, with skin conductance increasing in both conditions while heart rate decreased solely under motivation to conceal. Thus, different cognitive mechanisms seem to drive ocular responses. Pupil size appears to be linked to the orienting of attention (akin to skin conductance changes), while fixations and blinks rather seem to reflect arousal inhibition (comparable to heart rate changes). This knowledge strengthens CIT theory and illuminates the relationship between ocular and autonomic activity.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere14186
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Psychophysiology published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Society for Psychophysiological Research.


  • Concealed Information Test (CIT)
  • arousal inhibition
  • autonomic
  • oculomotor
  • orienting response
  • response fractionation


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