Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) have found blinking has more to do with just lubricating dry eyes and protecting them from irritants — it's also the brain's way of helping to ensure eyes stay focused on what they're viewing.
According to researchers, the muscles of the eyes are rather sluggish and imprecise. This causes the brain to continuously adapt its motor signals to make sure the eyes are always pointing where they should be. The scientists found when the eye blinks, the brain gauges the difference in what was seen before the blink and after, and then commands the eye muscles to make the necessary corrections.
Researchers tested their theory on a dozen young adults who were asked to sit in a dark room and stare at a dot on a screen for a long period of time. An infrared camera tracked their eye movements and blinks in real time. Every time a participant blinked the dot was shifted one centimeter to the right. Although the participants did not notice, their brain did and learned to reposition their line of vision on the dot.
The study was recently published in the journal Current Biology.
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