Eye blinks as a visual processing stage.

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  • Author(s): Yang B;Yang B;Yang B; Intoy J; Intoy J; Intoy J; Rucci M; Rucci M; Rucci M
  • Source:
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America [Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A] 2024 Apr 09; Vol. 121 (15), pp. e2310291121. Date of Electronic Publication: 2024 Apr 02.
  • Publication Type:
    Journal Article
  • Language:
    English
  • Additional Information
    • Source:
      Publisher: National Academy of Sciences Country of Publication: United States NLM ID: 7505876 Publication Model: Print-Electronic Cited Medium: Internet ISSN: 1091-6490 (Electronic) Linking ISSN: 00278424 NLM ISO Abbreviation: Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A Subsets: MEDLINE
    • Publication Information:
      Original Publication: Washington, DC : National Academy of Sciences
    • Subject Terms:
    • Abstract:
      Humans blink their eyes frequently during normal viewing, more often than it seems necessary for keeping the cornea well lubricated. Since the closure of the eyelid disrupts the image on the retina, eye blinks are commonly assumed to be detrimental to visual processing. However, blinks also provide luminance transients rich in spatial information to neural pathways highly sensitive to temporal changes. Here, we report that the luminance modulations from blinks enhance visual sensitivity. By coupling high-resolution eye tracking in human observers with modeling of blink transients and spectral analysis of visual input signals, we show that blinking increases the power of retinal stimulation and that this effect significantly enhances visibility despite the time lost in exposure to the external scene. We further show that, as predicted from the spectral content of input signals, this enhancement is selective for stimuli at low spatial frequencies and occurs irrespective of whether the luminance transients are actively generated or passively experienced. These findings indicate that, like eye movements, blinking acts as a computational component of a visual processing strategy that uses motor behavior to reformat spatial information into the temporal domain.
      Competing Interests: Competing interests statement:The authors declare no competing interest.
    • Comments:
      Comment in: Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2024 Apr 16;121(16):e2404021121. (PMID: 38578986)
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    • Grant Information:
      P30 EY001319 United States EY NEI NIH HHS; R01 EY018363 United States EY NEI NIH HHS
    • Contributed Indexing:
      Keywords: fixational eye movements; retina; saccade; spatial vision; visual encoding
    • Publication Date:
      Date Created: 20240402 Date Completed: 20240404 Latest Revision: 20240425
    • Publication Date:
      20240425
    • Accession Number:
      PMC11009678
    • Accession Number:
      10.1073/pnas.2310291121
    • Accession Number:
      38564641