Why do we blink? To reload the brain, amongst other reasons
Main reasons we blink: scientifically proven reloading of the brain, reasons for blinking among adults and children, what would happen if we stopped moisturizing our eyes.
We don’t even notice that we are blinking, as this process is as natural as moving your arm or leg. But we do close our eyes at least 15-20 times per minute. Why do we have to do that so often?
Our cornea doesn’t need to be moisturized that often, because it is proven that 7 blinks are more than enough to provide the proper functionality level of the eye. It appears as though we are “wasting” 10% of our waking hours blinking our eyes!
Scientists from Japan have proven that this action is required in order to “reload” our brain. Tamami Nakano and a team of experts from the Osaka University developed a theory stating that we use blinking to “reset” current information and “reload” our brain afterwards. And it’s not just an idea, but an experimentally confirmed fact.
Continuous studies have allowed scientists to discover that blinking happens when a person is switching their focus onto something new:
- We blink when we finish each separate sentence during reading, writing or text typing
- We blink during pauses when listening to someone speak
- We blink with every new scene that appears when we watch a movie or a TV show.
By doing this we “reset” our neural network, which is located in the parietal lobe, helping our brain to change it’s focus. It turns out that blinking only looks spontaneous; in fact we are blinking at pretty predictable moments.
A group of volunteers was set up in order to confirm the theory of “reloading”. They were offered the pleasant experience of watching “Mister Bean” videos. While the participants were enjoying this funny show, scientists were thoroughly observing them and monitoring the activity in their neural networks with the help of a MRI-machine.
All the theories the scientists held were confirmed: all members of the group were “reloading” simultaneously, with every new scene and during the pauses between the episodes.
This experiment explains to us why people blink more often that is supposedly required. But there’s another question: why does the “reloading” process take so long? Scientists are planning to answer this question in the near future.
Main reasons of frequent blinking
Don’t assume that we blink so often only because our brain has to be “reloaded”. There are many other reasons for blinking:
- dry eyes
- a foreign body in the eyelids
- anxiety and stress
- nervous twitch
- some medications (ritalin, benzodiazepines)
- tourette’s syndrome
If you blink more than 20 times per minute, for longer than a couple of weeks, you should immediately consult your doctor.
What should I do if my child is blinking too often?
If you have noticed that your child is blinking frequently, it could be caused by fatigue, boredom or increased nervousness. Try to deal with this issue on your own before starting to panic and running to your doctor:
Try to avoid paying excessive attention to your child if they have this problem, because it will actually make the situation much worse. Actively protect your child from stress and try to change his schedule. Allow your child to have more rest during the day and more sleep during the night.
When your child starts to blink too frequently, put him on a chair, ask him to close his eyes, give him a back massage, read him a book or play relaxing music. Food and snacks can also help: when your child is blinking too frequently, offer him a drink or something to eat.
If such blinking develops into a nervous twitch, the symptoms will eventually fade away over time. However, you can potentially face this situation time and again.
We recommend you visit your doctor only in extreme situations, e.g. when you think that your child has damaged one of their eyes, when there’s a chance of an ingrown lash, conjunctivitis or other serious problems, which require immediate medical care.
What would happen if we stopped blinking?
You can’t just decide to suddenly stop blinking on your own. In order to do that, one would have to fix the upper eyelid open with something. Your tears would start to go down into the eye sinus, you would feel light pain, and your eyes would become irritated and dry.
Water would evaporate from the eye and it would become protected with a thin film that would prevent any serious changes for a short period of time. The passing of nutrients through the cornea would be interrupted and your eye would become infected, as there are no available tears to protect it from diseases or kill any bacteria.
Nevertheless, such a situation would not prove to be the worst that could potentially arise, as, if you did try to stop blinking for an even longer period of time, the cornea would become necrotic, and infection would spread through the eye and the brain. As a result, such a person would become totally blind and would ultimately die.
All this information was given for educational purposes only and we don’t recommend you really try to check it! Blink, “reload” your brain and take care of your eyes!