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MY BRAIN HAS GONE ON THE BLINK AGAIN; Fluttering eyelids makes parts of our minds shut down.

Byline: By Michael Christie

LARGE parts of our brains switch off every time we blink, scientists revealed yesterday.

And we blink so often that the average adult's brain is affected for a total of nine days every year.

Researchers say blinking shuts down the parts of the brain which control our vision and awareness of our surroundings.

But we're only 'switched off' for about a tenth of a second each time and most people don't even realise anything is happening.

The research team, from University College London, believe the brain may shut down parts of itself to make sure we don't get confused when we blink.

The average person blinks 15 times every minute. And if the brain just carried on as normal during the process, it would be left constantly wondering why everything had suddenly gone dark then lit up again.

By shutting down its sight and consciousness circuits when we blink, the brain makes sure we have an uninterrupted view of the world.

A member of the research team, Davina Bristow, said: 'We would immediately notice if the outside world went dark, especially if it was happening every few seconds.

'Suppressing the brain areas involved in visual awareness during blinks may be a mechanism for preventing the brain from becoming aware of the eyelid sweeping down.' The London team used brain scanners to study the effects of blinking in volunteers. Their findings are reported in the journal Current Biology.

Blinking is an important part of the body's maintenance system.

It moisturises our eyes, using lubricating glands between our eyelashes, and helps clear dust particles from our eyeballs.

Despite its effects on the brain, blinking a lot doesn't mean you're stupid - even though dippy Big Brother finalist Helen Adams once famously remarked: 'I love blinking,I do.'

But we do blink less often when we are concentrating hard on something. This may explain why babies, with their undeveloped minds, only blink about once a minute.

Body language experts say frequent blinking is often a sign that someone is lying. Bill Clinton's blink rate famously rose to 120 a minute when he was quizzed on TV about lover Monica Lewinsky


BLINKER: Helen Adams
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 26, 2005
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