THURSDAY, May 6 (HealthDay News) -- Increased blinking might be a sign that someone's mind is wandering, a new study suggests.
Canadian researchers asked 15 volunteers to read a passage from a book on a computer. As they read the passage, a sensor tracked their eye movements. At random intervals, the participants reported whether they had been paying attention to what they were reading or whether their minds had been wandering.
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Blinking occurred more often when the volunteers' minds were wandering than when they were focused on their reading task. The blinking acts as a physical barrier to the outside world.
"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," study author Daniel Smilek, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, said in a news release.
He added that the findings, published recently in the journal Psychological Science, are part of a shift in how scientists think about the mind-body connection.
Psychologists are realizing that "you can't think about these mental processes, like attention, separately from the fact that the individual's brain is in a body, and the body's acting in the world," Smilek said.
-- Robert Preidt
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SOURCE: Association for Psychological Science, news release, April 29, 2010
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