The other reason we all blink

Blinking is not an unexplained phenomenon. We all know why people blink. Blinking serves to lubricate the eyes and to remove any dust particles that may have crept into the eye area. Yet scientists have now said that the number of times that people blink is far more than required for these two reasons alone. They now believe that there is a third reason is causing people to blink. 

Studies have shown that the average person blinks 15 to 20 times every minute. This means that we spend roughly 10% of our waking lives, with our eyes closed. While traditionally we thought this was simply to protect and moisten our eyes, that isn’t the full story. A number of researchers now believe that we also blink to give our minds a momentary break, a waking rest. 

The researchers have put this theory to the test and they appear to be on to something. Research has shown that people generally tend to blink in the same moments; in between sentences, in a change of scene in a movie. It always appears to happen in-between moments of activity. It is possible that the brain is just being opportunistic. It may be hard-wired to believe that great blinking opportunities may not come again for a while and so it takes every chance it can get. Although, that seems unlikely.

To test further, researches asked audiences to watch a TV show while they were under brain scans. At the moment the audience blinks it appears that their mental activity does change and take a little break. When the audience was tested by keeping their eyes open but with an occasional black screen, the same result was not found. Clearly this is not just about visual stimulus but about a mental decision.

So if you are feeling like an extra break today, just blink some more. It may give you the rest and focus you need.