Learning and Timing of voluntary blink responses match eyeblink conditioning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Can humans produce well-timed blink responses to a neutral stimulus voluntarily, without receiving any blink-eliciting, unconditional, stimulus? And if they can, to what degree does classical eyeblink conditioning depend on volition? Here we show that voluntary blink responses learned in two paradigms that did not involve any unconditional blink-eliciting stimuli, display timing that is as good, or better than, the timing of blink responses learned in a standard eyeblink conditioning paradigm. The exceptional timing accuracy likely stems from the fact that, in contrast to previous studies, we challenged our participants to blink in a timed manner, and not merely to blink so as to avoid the corneal air puff. These results reveal a remarkable level of voluntary control over a simple movement, and they challenge the view that learning during eyeblink conditioning is necessarily automatic and involuntary.


External organisations
  • Erasmus University Medical Center
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)
  • Other Medical Sciences not elsewhere specified
Original languageEnglish
Article number3404
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Publication categoryResearch