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Optom Vis Sci. 2010 May;87(5):337-43. doi: 10.1097/OPX.0b013e3181d951b2.

Factors regulating eye blink rate in young infants.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, State University of New York at Oswego, Oswego, New York 13126, USA.



The purpose of this work was to investigate whether individual differences in eye surface area are related to the rate of spontaneous eye blinking (SB) in young infants. Rate of SB was also compared with the rate of gaze shifts.


Forty-four 4-month-old infants were observed under controlled conditions for 4 to 6 min. SB, eye surface area, gaze shifts, and various background variables were measured.


Individual differences in the rate of SB and in eye surface area were wide. Neither the eye surface area nor the rate of gaze shifting was related to the rate of SB in young infants. However, when SB do occur, they are more likely to coincide with a shift in gaze than immediately precede or follow a shift in gaze.


Eye surface area does not explain individual differences in the rate of SB in infancy. This and other recent work suggests that central factors may play a more prominent role in the mechanisms of SB early in human development than previously reported and that the mechanisms regulating the rate of SB seem to be developmentally continuous with those of adults. To the extent that the rate and timing of SB reflects developing neurological systems, SB may be useful clinically.

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