The research shows that by measuring a person's movements as they use a computer, it is possible to judge their level of interest by monitoring whether they display the tiny movements that people usually constantly exhibit, known as non-instrumental movements.

If someone is absorbed in what they are watching or doing what Dr Harry Witchel, from the Brighton and Sussex Medical School in UK calls 'rapt engagement' - there is a decrease in these involuntary movements.

"Our study showed that when someone is really highly engaged in what they're doing, they suppress these tiny involuntary movements," Witchel said.

"It's the same as when a small child, who is normally constantly on the go, stares gaping at cartoons on the television without moving a muscle," he said. The discovery could have a significant impact on the development of artificial intelligence, researchers said.
Future applications could include the creation of online tutoring programmes that adapt to a person's level of interest, in order to re-engage them if they are showing signs of boredom, they said.


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