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An average human tends to blink their eyes at least 15-50 times in one minute. I read it somewhere in a medical journal that we should blink our eyes just 2-4 times a minute in order for the proper lubrication. So what is really happening when one blinks the other times?
Tamami Nakano, a professor from the Osaka University, Japan says that though the movement of the eyes has been extensively investigated, yet the blinking of the eyes has still not been explained. Several scientists have pinned down this eye movement to mere lubrication of the eyes. But others say that blinking has other functions too.
In order to understand the body’s mechanism behind blinking, Nakano conducted an experiment. Around 20 students were asked to watch the movie “Mr. Bean” for an approximate period of 30 minutes as they were in MRI. The movie was chosen as in absence of dialogues it was easy to comprehend. The research counted number of blinks through the pupil size measurement using infrared light. The results of this experiment showed that the when an individual blinks during the process of concentrating on any task, it is a method of resetting the brain. Something like rebooting the computer again and again.
When an individual is engaged in a certain task, for example watching the movie, the attention networks of the brain get triggered. The researchers believed that as one performs an activity the default network set in the brain, one that works in downtime replaying self-reflective thoughts, tends to slow down on its activity.
Dr Marcus Raichle, working at St Louis Medicine School, discovered that in performing various tasks the brain switched from the default network to activity oriented part in a see-saw type of manner. As per Tamami’s study, the brain switches from its dorsal attention to default mode, emphasizing the active role played by default network. This switch may only take place through blinking unconsciously.
The study revealed that even though individuals may pay their attention to factors of the external world, unconscious shift from external brain attention network to internal brain processes occurs when the individual blinks. By blinking, individuals tend to reset the networks of the brain as well as maintain the processing of the visual information and its comprehension. Blinking also works by giving the eyes the necessary rest and provide a break from continuous fixation of concentration on one particular task, restoring comprehension of the information viewed.
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