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The Brain Restarts Itself by Blinking


Blinking is a process through with the eyes moisten and protect themselves from irritants. All humans and animals blink, with the exception of some coldblooded species. Normally, a person blinks 20 times per minute. Some people blink more, but this can be attributed to some type of worry.

It turns out that 10% of an adult person's time is spent blinking. Babies on the other hand, blink significantly less, since they spend most of their time sleeping and don't need to moisten their eyes as much as adults.

A team of scientists from Osaka University, led by Tamami Nakano, found out another curious fact about blinking. The experts had a suspicion that during frequent blinking, the brain actually "restarts" itself. By blinking, it "switched" more easily from one given object to another.

The majority of people blink during certain situations. Usually, they do it when starting a new paragraph while reading or during a conversation, when the speaker pauses in his speech. In other words, people normally blink after an event's logical conclusion.


By blinking, there is a sort of restart of the state of attention in the neural network, found in the part of the brain that is responsible for identifying objects, but also for the redirection of attention from one object to another.

The neuroscientists at Osaka University decided to test their hypotheses by using 1 simple experiment. During the study, volunteers watched the British comedic series Mr. Bean. Meanwhile, the experts kept track of their neural network's activity using a scanner.

They observed that when the volunteers blinked during a scene, their brains became passive for a fraction of a second. At the same time, the activity of the neural network decreased - the scanner registered a drop in the blood flow in that part of the brain it was connected to during blinking.

Scientists are still not clear about why the brain uses blinking to redirect its attention from one object to another. Since this question is infinitely fascinating to them, they intend to carry out other studies in the future as well.