Jonathan duncanjonathan at YAHOO.CA
Mon Jan 29 18:27:17 UTC 2007

Hi Stuart,
    I found an interesting article in the Awake! magazine back in 1992
that talked about blinking.  I thought you and others might enjoy
reading it.

*** g92 3/8 pp. 14-15 In the Blink of an Eye ***

In the Blink of an Eye

YOU just did it again. Yesterday you did it about 15,000 times. Most
likely you were never aware of doing it, but you kept at it and thereby
protected two of your most precious possessions. In the process, you may
also have offered some unwitting indicators as to how your brain works.
How did you do all of this? You blinked.

If your eyes are functional, they are the most delicate and sensitive
sensory equipment you have. Widely regarded as a miracle of design, the
human eye has been compared to a fully automatic, three-dimensional,
self-focusing, continuously filming, full color, motion-picture camera.
When not in use, a camera's delicate lens is covered with a lens cap.
But the eye does better than that.

Most of the orb of the eye lies protected within the socket. But the
remaining 10 percent of the eye's surface area is exposed naked to the
atmosphere, with all its whirling dust and hazardous debris. To protect
the eye against this constant threat of assault, the body is designed
with a sophisticated, retractable "lens cap"---the eyelid. Made up of
the body's thinnest skin, reinforced with tiny, fibrous strands, the
eyelid slips smoothly down and up over the eye. The blink lasts only
about a tenth of a second and occurs some 15 times every minute.

But that tiny, barely noticeable action accomplishes a lot. In snapping
shut and then retracting, the eyelid draws a thin film of fluid across
the surface of the eye, effectively rinsing it off. It also polishes the
eye's outer surface. So the eyelid might be likened to a combination
lens cap, lens cleaner, and lens polisher. Quite a design, isn't it?

But scientists have long puzzled over an odd point: At the rate that
watery tears on the eye's surface dissolve, one or two blinks per minute
should suffice to do the job of rinsing and polishing. Why, then, all
the extra blinks? The answer, it seems, is in the mind.

Researchers have drawn connections between blinking and thinking. For
instance, anxiety makes you blink more. If you are trying your hand at
flying a helicopter, or you are being cross-examined by a hostile
lawyer, or you are suffering from an anxiety disorder, you are likely
blinking more than usual. If you are a television newscaster, you may
have been told not to blink so that your audience doesn't think you are
panic-stricken over the news.

On the other hand, if you are concentrating visually, such as by tracing
a line through a maze, driving through city streets, or reading a novel,
you blink less frequently. Pilots, for instance, need to concentrate
more than copilots, so they blink much less. Blinks are particularly
inhibited when a person is in actual danger, and the eyes need to dart
quickly from the main field of view to the periphery and back.

There is another connection between brain and blink. According to The
Medical Post of Canada, research suggests that "each blink may occur at
the crucial instant in which we stop seeing and start thinking." For
example, a person memorizing something will probably blink right after
scanning the information he wants to store. Or in decision making, tests
suggest that "the brain orders a blink when it has enough information to
make a good decision," notes the Post, adding: "Experiments indicate
that blinking serves as a kind of mental punctuation."

It was nearly three thousand years ago that a wise man was inspired to
write: "In a fear-inspiring way I am wonderfully made." (Psalm 139:14)
The advances of medical science in our day have only bolstered that
viewpoint. Just imagine: polishing and lubricating a sophisticated lens,
registering the degree of the brain's concentration or anxiety, and
punctuating the inflow of visual information---all of that in the blink
of an eye!

Stuart Thiessen wrote:
> I am transcribing a video and noticed that the eye-blinks in this
> video seem significant. As far as I can tell from the Archives and the
> website, we have not discussed that issue online. I am curious if any
> of you have written blinks before. For now, I am thinking of just
> writing it as closed eyes or two heads with one having closed eyes
> then one having open eyes. Sometimes, this happens during the pause
> between signs. I have noticed that in ASL, the eyeblinks can indicate
> almost an end of sentence or end of thought or transition between
> thoughts. I haven't studied this in enough detail to be sure of that
> conclusion though.
> Any thoughts or feedback on writing this?
> Thanks,
> Stuart



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