Technology

How can we measure unbiased emotion?

We adapted a method known from basic research as well as from psychiatric implications to quantify unbiased emotion relevant to the industry - Startle Reflex Modulation (SRM). The human eye blink reflex, which occurs as a consequence of short and loud acoustic noise, represents a so-called startle reflex. It is meant to protect the eye from potential environmental harm. Usually, a reflex is an automatic process.

However, it has been demonstrated that the very inner and continuously varying emotional state correlates with the strength of this automatic response. The more positive the emotional state, the smaller the response and the more negative the emotional state the larger the response. The neural structures that process raw affective information underlying emotions are deeply subcortical and thus not accessible to language. However, their varying activity levels modulate a startle response, allowing us to quantify raw unbiased emotion.

Via electromyography (EMG) - a physiological method - we measure the strength of muscle contraction, which directly correlates with affective valence related to any foreground (external) stimulus. By using well designed experimental paradigms and by utilising adequate analysing procedures, it is possible to display a person's raw inner emotional state related to an external stimulus. This method does not depend on any explicit (verbalised) responses, which would bias raw emotions (cognitive pollution).


Comparative table of methods

Method Feature
Startle reflex modulation (SRM) Quantifies unbiased emotion
Functional Magnet Resonance Imaging (fMRI) Reveals neural structures
Electroencephalography (EEG) Reveals timing of neural events
Questionnaire Collects biased responses
The brain knows more than it admits and we have access to that knowledge