Blinking is a bodily function; it is a semi-autonomic rapid closing of the eyelid. A single blink is determined by the forceful closing of the eyelid or inactivation of the levator palpebrae superioris and the activation of the palpebral portion of the orbicularis oculi, not the full open and close. It is an essential function of the eye that helps spread tears across and remove irritants from the surface of the cornea and conjunctiva.
Blinking may have other functions since it occurs more often than necessary just to keep the eye lubricated. Researchers think blinking may help with disengagement of attention; following blink onset, cortical activity decreases in the dorsal network and increases in the default-mode network, associated with internal processing. Blink speed can be affected by elements such as fatigue, eye injury, medication, and disease. The blinking rate is determined by the "blinking center", but it can also be affected by external stimulus.
Some animals, such as tortoises and hamsters, blink their eyes independently of each other. Humans use winking, the blinking of only one eye, as a form of body language.
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