Blinking's less about lubrication than relaxing rumination

WHY do we spend about 10 per cent of our waking hours with our eyes closed - blinking far more often than is actually necessary to keep our eyeballs lubricated?

Scientists have found that the human brain uses that tiny moment of shut-eye to power down. The mental break can last anywhere from a split second to a few seconds before attention is fully restored, researchers from Japan's Osaka University found.

During that time, scans that track the ebb and flow of blood within the brain revealed that regions associated with paying close attention momentarily go off-line. At this time our thoughts seldom stray far from home: we contemplate our feelings; wonder what a friend meant by a comment; or consider something we did last week.

And although this study didn't examine the relationship between blinking and deception, others have. While telling a lie, liars have been found to blink less - possibly because the act of deception requires rapt attention to pull it off. In the seconds after telling a lie, however, the liar will blink far more often than a truth teller.

Perhaps the resulting downtime is necessary for the liar to consider whether the deceived person was buying the fib.


This story Blinking's less about lubrication than relaxing rumination first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.