Navigation Links
Blink, and the brain misses it

We would immediately notice if the outside world suddenly went dark every few seconds. But we rarely become aware of our blinks, even though they cause a similar reduction in the amount of light entering the eye. So why are we not aware of the frequent mini-blackouts caused by blinks?

In the 1980s, scientists discovered that visual sensitivity begins decreasing immediately before a blink, but the brain mechanisms underlying this process have until now remained unclear. As they report this week, Davina Bristow and a team of scientists at University College London led by Dr. Geraint Rees may now have found a reason for why blinks go unnoticed.

In their study, the researchers devised a clever way to monitor the brain's activity under conditions in which the amount of light received by the eye was constant, regardless of blinking. The researchers achieved this by placing a light-emitting optical fibre in the mouth of volunteers wearing light-proof goggles. Because the light was bright enough to pass through tissues of the face, the fibre could be used to illuminate the retina through the roof of the mouth. Therefore, the amount of light falling on the retina remained constant, even when the volunteers blinked. The researchers then performed a type of brain scan known as functional magnetic resonance imaging and could thus measure whether the act of blinking--independently of any change in light normally caused by eyelid closure--would influence the level of light-activated brain activity.

The UCL scientists found that when volunteers were blinking, brain activity was suppressed in areas that respond to visual input, even though the light falling onto the retina remained constant throughout the blink. Many of these brain areas are activated when people become conscious of visual events or objects in the outside world. "Transiently suppressing these brain areas involved in visual awareness during blinks may be a neural mechanism for preventing the b rain from becoming aware of the eyelid sweeping down over the pupil during a blink and the world going dark," explains Professor Frith. In summing up the study's implications, the authors suggest that when we blink, the brain may just miss it.

Bristow et al.: "Blinking suppresses the neural response to unchanging retinal stimulation." Publishing in Current Biology, Vol. 15, 1296?300, July 26, 2005. DOI 10.1016/j.cub.2005.06.025 www.current-biology.com


'"/>

Source:Cell Press


Related biology news :

1. Controversial drug shown to act on brain protein to cut alcohol use
2. Mouse brain cells rapidly recover after Alzheimers plaques are cleared
3. Mouse brain tumors mimic those in human genetic disorder
4. New imaging method gives early indication if brain cancer therapy is effective, U-M study shows
5. First atlas of key brain genes could speed research on cancer, neurological diseases
6. NYU study reveals how brains immune system fights viral encephalitis
7. Stem cells from brain transformed to produce insulin at Stanford
8. Birds brains reveal source of songs
9. Loves all in the brain: fMRI study shows strong, lateralized reward, not sex, drive
10. Revolutionary nanotechnology illuminates brain cells at work
11. A puzzle piece found in unraveling the wiring of the brain
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:12/20/2016)... 20, 2016   Valencell , the leading ... STMicroelectronics (NYSE: STM), a global semiconductor leader ... announced today the launch of a new, highly ... that includes ST,s compact SensorTile turnkey ... biometric sensor system. Together, SensorTile and Benchmark deliver ...
(Date:12/16/2016)... , Dec. 16, 2016 The global wearable medical device ... billion by 2021 from USD 5.31 billion in 2016, at a ... ... driven by technological advancements in medical devices, launch of a growing ... for wireless connectivity among healthcare providers, and increasing focus on physical ...
(Date:12/15/2016)... Advancements in biometrics will radically ... wellbeing (HWW), and security of vehicles by ... vehicles begin to feature fingerprint recognition, iris ... monitoring, brain wave monitoring, stress detection, fatigue ... detection. These will be driven by built-in, ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:1/12/2017)... WASHINGTON, DC , January 12, 2017 ... set up the world,s biggest facility for producing mycorrhizae. ... translated the nutrient tapping potential of mycorrhizae and developed ... ...      (Logo: http://mma.prnewswire.com/media/456932/PRNE_TERI_Logo.jpg) The TERI ...
(Date:1/12/2017)... ... January 12, 2017 , ... ... RURO has enhanced the platform to accommodate increasingly complex and sophisticated deployments, ... searching, and more. In addition to these improvements, the latest release brings ...
(Date:1/11/2017)... ... January 11, 2017 , ... Photonics industry and ... , are commending the U.S. Congress and President Obama for their recognition of ... of the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (AICA). , The language of the ...
(Date:1/11/2017)... ... January 11, 2017 , ... Microbial ... ground-breaking microbiome studies. Its most recent microbiome impact grant award has been made ... the effect of long-term use of oral antibiotics, prescribed for skin conditions, on ...
Breaking Biology Technology: