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Wed Nov 26 08:28:50 SAST 2014

Blinking gives your brain a mini-nap: study

AFP Relaxnews | 04 January, 2013 11:22
Eye. File photo.
Image by: lokenrc/flickr.com

While blinking every few seconds serves to keep your eyes lubricated, scientists have spotted another benefit: blinking gives your brain a mini-power nap.

Scientists from Japan's Osaka University examined 20 healthy young adults in a brain scanner as they watched segments of the British comedy "Mr. Bean." When subjects blinked, the researchers noticed a power-down within the brain's visual cortex and somateosensory cortex, as well as in areas that manage attention.

In a separate experiment, the team inserted about nine 165-millisecond segments of blank screentime per minute into the "Mr. Bean" video. Interestingly, although the video gave them a mini-break similar to blinking, subjects' brains didn't respond to it in the same way as a blink -- they remained attentive without powering down parts of the brain.

The study was published last week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academies of Science.

A 2008 study finds that blinking is also a giveaway for lying: fib-tellers blink less frequently during the lie and then speed up to around eight times faster than usual afterwards. The findings were published in the Journal of Non-verbal Behaviour.

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