Blinking actually enhances your vision, and we never noticed it: ScienceAlert

Blinking: It happens every few seconds without you even thinking — unless you're engaged in a staring contest of astonishing proportions.

Tears well up as you resist the urge to blink, and when you finally do…oh, sweet relief. Your eyeballs are flooded with fluid as your eyelids close momentarily.

But blinking does more than just wet the eye. A new study shows that, surprisingly, it also helps with vision. It's the latest effort in a series of research studies trying to determine what blinking is good for, because we often do it to lubricate the eyes.

“We have shown that blinking increases the strength of retinal stimulation and that this effect significantly enhances vision despite the time lost in exposure to the external scene,” said University of Rochester neuroscientist Ben Yang and colleagues. Writing in their published paper.

Previous research has suggested that flashing It refreshes our attention, It helps in recognizing thingsinterrupting an endless stream of visual and audio information Into pieces for processing.

However, we also lose our vision in brief blackouts of 300 milliseconds each time we blink, even if we don't notice it happening. You might expect this interruption to interrupt the activity of neurons responding to visual input, but perhaps not in a positive way.

Surprisingly, a 2016 study showed that although neural activity decreased with the eyelids closed, It bounces to a higher level Immediately after blinking, which is thought to enhance vision.

Following up on these findings, Yang and his colleagues used high-resolution eye tracking in this new study to investigate how blinking affected vision in 12 people who viewed high-contrast images on a screen.

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Since both eyes blink together, only one eye in each person was tracked, and the light intensity or luminance of participants' visual input was recorded.

For periods when participants were focusing on the screen, the researchers found that flashes increased the strength of visual input signals by modifying the intensity of light falling on the retina.

This visual enhancement was seen when participants were asked to blink and when they did so reflexively. In contrast to previous research that found that only real blinking improved attention, not simulated blinking, changes in brightness that mimicked blinking also momentarily enhanced vision.

“Instead of impairing visual processing as is commonly assumed, blinking enhances sensitivity,” say Yang and his colleagues a report.

Furthermore, the researchers found that blinking helps re-coordinate visual information, similar to the way other eye movements are oblivious (ultra-fast). Saccades ocular drifts) shape vision by adding spatial markers and “time stamps” to the video that represents our vision.

Taking into account that we spend It is estimated at 10 percent of our waking hours When our eyes are closed due to blinking, it's comforting to know that at least it's for a good reason.

The study was published in With people.

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