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Mov Disord. 1997 Nov;12(6):1028-34.

Analysis of blink rate patterns in normal subjects.

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Istituto di Neurologia, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Roma, Italy.


The present study measured the normal blink rate (BR) variations in relation to behavioral tasks in 150 healthy volunteers (70 males and 80 females; aged 35.9 +/- 17.9 years, range 5-87 years). The subjects were videotaped in a standard setting while performing three different tasks: resting quietly, reading a short passage, talking freely. The mean BR was computed during each task; the data were compared by means of analysis of variance and Student's t tests. Mean BR at rest was 17 blinks/min, during conversation it increased to 26, and it was as low as 4.5 while reading. As compared with rest, BR decreased by -55.08% while reading (p < 1 x 10(-15)) and increased by 99.70% during conversation (p < 1 x 10(-9)). As compared with reading, BR increased during conversation by 577.8% (p < 1 x 10(-17). The distribution curves were highly reproducible in each task. The best curve fit was represented by a log-normal distribution, with the upper tail of each curve having a normal distribution. Eye color and eyeglass wearing did not influence BR. Women had higher BR than men just while reading. No age-related differences were found. The most common BR pattern was conversation > rest > reading, which occurred in 101 subjects (67.3%); 34 subjects (22.7%) had the pattern rest > conversation > reading; 12 (8.0%) had the pattern conversation > reading > rest. This study identified three normal behavioral BR patterns and showed that BR is more influenced by cognitive processes than by age, eye color, or local factors. The present findings provide a normal reference for the analysis of BR in movement disorders such as dystonia or tics.

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