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The other psychophysiological signals April 28, 2010

Posted by mikkosalminen in Blogroll.
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Besides the already covered EEG we are also planning to record some other psychophysiological signals when studying digital reputation in different experimental settings. We plan to use at least electrodermal activation (EDA), facial electromyography (EMG), and electrocardiography (ECG).  The dimensional theory of emotion places emotions in a two dimensional space defined by valence (unpleasant – pleasant) and arousal (calm – excited). Valence can be effectively studied with the facial EMG. The cheek muscle and the periocular muscle are usually activated during positive emotions, like during smiling. The frowning muscle is, of course, related to negative emotions. For the measurement of arousal, EDA, in practice sweating of the hands, is a useful index. The interpretation of these signals is somewhat straightforward, at least when compared to heart rate, or ECG more generally. The problem is that the activity of the heart is regulated by many processes; the ECG has been used to study stress, arousal, valence, attention, and orientation reflex, for example. So it is good to have other signals to accompany in the interpretation.

There are various other signals that could be also recorded, like breathing rate, movement of the subject by accelerometers or tracking the gaze or changes in the pupils. However, there are limits to how much wires we can attach to the subjects. On the other hand, having more than just one or two signals collected is not advisable either. The interpretation is almost always easier when there are more psychophysiological signals to look at. Since we are applying the psychophysiological method to a new area, the study of digital reputation, we cannot know beforehand which signals would be the most useful. After the first experiments we have at least some guidelines for selecting the best signals for further studies of digital reputation.

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