Blinks as an index of cognitive activity during reading

Integr Physiol Behav Sci. 1991 Apr-Jun;26(2):108-16. doi: 10.1007/BF02691032.


Horizontal and vertical EOG recordings of eye movements were analyzed to determine the spatial and temporal distribution of blinks and the patterns of eye movements (saccades and fixation pauses) exhibited by six subjects during the reading of stories presented in two formats (on paper and on a VDT). The frequency and placement of blinks was not affected by the presentation condition. Blinks were determined to be non-randomly distributed during reading. Significantly more blinks (36%) occurred in conjunction with saccades than the proportion of time consumed by saccades (12%) would predict. Significantly more blinks (36%) occurred in the vicinity of line change saccades, which accounts for 15% of reading time, and with fixation pauses associated with regressions (42%), which accounts for 26% of reading time, than with fixation pauses during normal reading (22%), which accounts for 60% of reading time. The results of the study suggest that blink behavior during reading is under perceptual and cognitive control.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention*
  • Blinking*
  • Cognition*
  • Computer Terminals
  • Fixation, Ocular
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Paper
  • Reading*
  • Saccades*