New research from Japan suggests that blinking does more than stop our eyes drying out: it is an active process that causes the brain to go off-line, into a more reflective mode, before giving renewed attention.
Tamami Nakano of Osaka University and colleagues write about their findings in the 24 December online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science, PNAS.
In earlier work, where they had invited volunteers to watch Mr Bean videos, Nakano and colleagues discovered that people’s eyes blink when they need to pay less attention, for instance when the video cuts to a new scene.
And in another study, they found people blink when they pause while speaking, and this entrains their listeners to time their eye blinks to occur a split second later.
This seems to confirm the common-sense idea that we blink at times when we’ll miss the least important information.
There is a reason more than half the world’s population lives in cities, with the number expected to grow. Cities have a lot to offer. Residents can walk to nearby shops and enjoy cultural attractions not available to those in more rural areas. Also, living in a city may make your commute to work much shorter.
Unfortunately, according to health officials from the World Health Organization, that convenience may come with a price — higher levels of stress and a measurable impact on your brain.
The problem seems to be "attention," or more specifically, the lack of it. With so many different distractions — from a flashing neon sign, to the cell phone conversation of a nearby passenger on a bus, a city dweller starts to practice something known as "controlled perception." That toggling back and forth between competing stimuli can be mentally exhausting.
In fact, according to a recent study from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, just living in an urban environment makes it more difficult for an individual to hold things in memory.
In the same study, researchers split undergraduate students into two groups. One spent the day in a suburban neighborhood, the other group in a busy city. Overall, those in the city scored lower on attention tests and had a worse mood comparatively.
Man and Machine expanded their relationship today when Honda announced the new thought controlled ASMIO. What doors of the mind does this open? Read the facts for yourself…
Honda Research Institute Japan Co., Ltd. (HRI-JP), a subsidiary of Honda R&D Co., Ltd., Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International (ATR) and Shimadzu Corporation have collaboratively developed the world’s first*1 Brain Machine Interface (BMI) technology that uses electroencephalography (EEG) and near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) along with newly developed information extraction technology to enable control of a robot by human thought alone. It does not require any physical movement such as pressing buttons. This technology will be further developed for the application to human-friendly products in the future by integrating it with intelligent technologies and/or robotic technologies.
During the human thought process, slight electrical current and blood flow change occur in the brain. The most important factor in the development of the BMI technology is the accuracy of measuring and analyzing these changes. The newly developed BMI technology uses EEG, which measures changes in electrical potential on the scalp, and NIRS, which measures changes in cerebral blood flow, with a newly developed information extraction technology which enables statistical processing of the complex information from these two types of sensors. As a result, it became possible to distinguish brain activities with high precision without any physical motion, but just human thought alone.
The BMI technology announced by HRI-JP and ATR in 2006 used a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner to measure brain activities. The large size and powerful magnetic field generated by the fMRI scanner limited the locations and conditions where it can be used. As the newly developed measuring device uses EEG and NIRS sensors, it can be transported to and used in various locations.