National Geographic has a fascinating article this month on blinking, especially interesting in light of John McCain who seemed ensnared by blinking during much of the campaign, which dissipated when he came back to himself in his concession speech.
"Blink rate varies wildly depending on mood, activity, concentration level, and species."
A human newborn blinks two times per minute.
A nervous adult blinks fifty times per minute.
Someone staring at a TV blinks 7.5 times per minute.
A calm adult blinks fifteen times per minute.
"What goes on in the blink of an eye? Most obvious, the lid spreads tears across the ball surface, warding off dryness and scratches. We blink less when reading or staring at a computer or TV - that's why eyes dry and burn - more when tired and at times of transition, like turning a page. But blinking isn't just a reflex. Calm slows blinking; anxiety can cause eyeblink storms. Think of a nervous politician or a bad liar, who usually blinks fastest after a fib. Psychopaths, with altered brain function, are less likely to blink vigorously when startled than an average Joe. Also, blinks dull brain activity related to visual awareness, perhaps to keep us from noticing the microseconds of dark. Blink mysteries include why babies do it less than adults - maybe because of all the new stimuli to take in - and why so much variation exists in animals. Case in point: A parrot blinks 26 times a minute, an ostrich, just once."
As I consider on this, I wonder if we blink less with open focus. A baby is openly focused. It takes awhile for a baby to tune in and differentiate. When I consider the natural environment of the parrot vs. the ostrich, it seems there is much more variety and color for the parrot in the jungle that the ostrich on the plains. Also, the ostrich has the fastest land speed of any bird. Maybe it needs to keep its eyes open. The parrot is more tangled in flowers and trees. Perhaps differentiating, we blink more to define the categories. Just a thought, and a blink.
Maybe next issue, National Geographic will discuss winking.