Why do we automatically blink?

In our daily life, we are constantly watching. We see and analyze what we observe through our eyes and, in fact, a large part of our cerebral cortex is dedicated to processing visual data. However, every few seconds, a little of what we often don’t even realize happens: We close our eyes to immediately reopen them.

In other words, we blink our eyes. This action can be forced and even controlled by us if we pay attention to it, but as a rule, it is something that we have done unconsciously and unintentionally. But why are we doing this? Why do we automatically blink?

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the blink

We call flashing the process by which we open and close the eyelids at a relatively high speed. This action is semi-voluntary, so it is possible to restrict or provoke it voluntarily if we wish and to pay attention to it or even to cancel it temporarily, but as a rule its realization escapes our consciousness.

The human being blinks on average about fifteen to twenty times per minute, Although it does not follow a fixed time pattern, it depends on the circumstances.

Causes of blinking

The blinking is mainly caused by the action of the striatum, part of the basal ganglia (located deep in the brain), and is mostly related to the structure called the pale globe. The implication was also found by the cerebellum.

Likewise, the autonomic nervous system is also related to the blinking reflex, inhibiting it or facilitating the need to activate the body and pay attention to the environment or relax it.

The main reason we blink is to keep the eye protected and lubricated: Since the eyes are the outermost organ related to perception that we have (along with the skin), we must be able to defend it against harmful chemicals which can be harmful. It also needs lubrication to run smoothly and provide crisp, crisp vision, which makes it blink.

In addition to this, the eyes are in constant operation and receive information constantly, so it is necessary to be able to make them rest.

    Flashing functions

    Flashing is an action that has multiple uses and can be changed for different reasons. Some of the main functions of flashing are as follows.

    Eye defense

    Blinking allows us to prevent our eyes from being damaged by external harmful agents, such as chemicals, physical assault (we tend to blink when we see something getting too close to our eyes) or even by excessive light level which can damage the inside of our eyes.

    Lubricate and clean the eye

    The surface of the eye is a lens in which images from the outside will be reflected. One of the functions of our blinking our eyes is keep the cornea clean and allow its proper functioning and health, because by blinking our eyes we shed tears all over the surface of the eye.

    Relax the eyes and the brain

    In addition to the eye, blinking relieves specific parts of the brain. The brain has been shown to decrease the activation of visual nuclei during times when we blink, resulting in it helps us organize visual information.

    Aspects that modify the rate of blinking

    There are multiple circumstances that can alter the frequency of eye blinking in humans. They usually have to do with the mood or the level of activation or arousal. Some of the aspects that change the rate or frequency of blinking are as follows

    1. Attention, surprise and interest

    When something surprises us or catches our attention, we tend to dramatically reduce how often we blink and even stop blinking for a few moments. this allows that we do not lose information about the new situation or whatever catches our interest.

    2. Boredom and disinterest

    Most people tend to blink slower and slower when they are tired and / or bored.

    3. Anxiety and nervousness

    When we are nervous, stressed, or anxious, most people tend to blink continuously and much more frequently than usual.

    4. Consumption of psychoactive substances

    The consumption of different substances with psychoactive effects can also modify the blinking, reduce it or increase it.

      5. Medical illness or mental or neurological disorders

      Different medical illnesses or even mental disorders have been shown to occur with impaired or eliminated blinking of the eyes. In fact, the absence of blinking can be understood as a symptom of a disorder.

      People who suffer from tics, stroke or dementia or other disorders that progress to progressive degeneration of mental functions often have impaired or absent blinking.

      Alterations have also been observed in subjects with mood disorders (People with depression tend to blink less and more slowly, while people in the manic phase tend to blink more). Likewise, people with schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders can suffer from this type of disorder.

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