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.

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Journal Scientific Reports
Rasmussen, A, & Jirenhed, D.-A. (Dan-Anders). (2017). Learning and Timing of Voluntary Blink Responses Match Eyeblink Conditioning. Scientific Reports, 7(1). doi:10.1038/s41598-017-03343-2