Study: Blinking Eyes Mean a Wandering Mind

WATERLOO, Ontario, April 29 (UPI) — A Canadian study suggests that when a person’s eyes increase blinking it can mean the person’s mind is wandering.

Associate Professor Daniel Smilek and colleagues at the University of Waterloo say when your mind wanders, you’re not paying attention to what’s going in front of you. And his new findings suggest it’s not just the mind, it’s the body that’s also involved.


Smilek, a cognitive neuroscientist, said he was inspired by brain research that showed when the mind wanders parts of the brain that process external events are less active.

“And we thought, OK, if that’s the case, maybe we’d see that the body would start to do things to prevent the brain from receiving external information. The simplest thing that might happen is you might close your eyes more,” he said.

So, Smilek and colleagues Jonathan Carriere and J. Allan Cheyne studied how often people blink when their mind wanders and discovered people did blink more when their minds were wandering than when they were on task.

“What we suggest is that when you start to mind-wander, you start to gate the information even at the sensory endings — you basically close your eyelid so there’s less information coming into the brain,” Smilek said.

The team reports the research in the journal Psychological Science.

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