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Why don’t we see black when we blink?

Have you ever wondered why we don’t see black when we blink? It’s a common question that arises when we think about the blinking process. Blinking is a natural and frequent process that helps lubricate our eyes and protect them from irritants. However, despite the momentary interruption in our vision when we blink, we don’t perceive darkness or blackness. Researchers in Singapore may have found the answer to this intriguing phenomenon. In a recent study, they discovered that our brain works extra hard to stabilize our vision during the blinking process, ensuring that our surroundings do not appear shadowy, erratic, or jittery. In this blog post, we will explore the reasons behind why we don’t see black when we blink and delve into the fascinating mechanisms our brain employs to maintain visual stability.

Explanation of Blinking

Before we discuss why we don’t see black when we blink, let’s start by understanding what blinking is and what purpose it serves. Blinking is the rapid closing and opening of the eyelids. It is an involuntary reflex that occurs approximately every two to ten seconds in most individuals. While it may seem like a simple action, blinking serves multiple purposes.

One of the primary purposes of blinking is to lubricate the eyes. When we blink, a thin layer of tears spreads across the surface of our eyes, providing moisture and preventing dryness. Blinking also helps in spreading tears over the cornea, which is essential for maintaining clear vision.

Another crucial function of blinking is to protect the eyes from debris, dust, and other irritants. When we blink, the movement of the eyelids helps to sweep away any particles that might have landed on the surface of our eyes. This protective mechanism prevents foreign objects from causing irritation or damage to our eyes.

The Brain’s Role in Vision Stabilization

Now that we have a better understanding of blinking and its purpose, let’s explore why we don’t see black during the brief moments of eyelid closure. The answer lies in the remarkable capabilities of our brain to stabilize our vision during the blinking process.

When we blink, there is a temporary interruption in the visual input that reaches our brain. However, our brain compensates for this interruption and ensures that our perception of the world remains seamless. It accomplishes this through various mechanisms that help stabilize our vision.

One mechanism is the retention of images. Before we blink, our brain retains a mental impression of the visual scene. This retention allows us to have continuous imagery, even during the momentary blackout caused by blinking. The retention of the image provides a seamless transition when we reopen our eyes.

Furthermore, the brain fills in the gaps in our visual perception during blinking. It relies on stored memories and contextual clues to complete the visual experience. For example, if we were looking at a scene with a stationary object before blinking, our brain can recreate the image of that object based on our memory and understanding of its position. This filling-in mechanism helps us perceive a continuous visual scene despite the interruption caused by blinking.

Additionally, our brain employs predictive mechanisms to anticipate the visual scene after blinking. These mechanisms use contextual information and our knowledge of the environment to predict what the visual scene will look like once we reopen our eyes. This predictive processing ensures that our perception remains coherent and stable.

Study Conducted in Singapore

To gain further insights into why we don’t see black when we blink, researchers in Singapore conducted a study. The objective of the study was to understand the intricate processes that occur in our brain to maintain visual stability during blinking.

In the study, participants were asked to blink while their eye movements were monitored using high-speed cameras. Simultaneously, their brain activity was recorded using electroencephalogram (EEG) sensors. The study found that when participants blinked, their brain activity increased significantly compared to when their eyes were open. This heightened activity indicated that the brain was working harder to stabilize the vision during the blink.

The researchers concluded that the brain actively compensates for the temporary lack of visual input during blinking. It ensures that our surroundings do not appear shadowy, erratic, or jittery when our eyes are closed. The brain achieves this by employing adaptive mechanisms that rely on memory, prediction, and context.

Benefits of Blinking

While the focus of this blog post is on why we don’t see black when we blink, it is essential to recognize the other benefits that blinking provides.

One of the significant advantages of blinking is eye lubrication. The process of blinking spreads tears across the surface of our eyes, keeping them moist and preventing dryness. This lubrication is essential for maintaining clear vision and preventing discomfort.

Blinking also serves as a protective mechanism for our eyes. When we blink, the movement of the eyelids helps to remove debris, dust, and other irritants from the surface of our eyes. This action prevents these foreign particles from causing irritation or potentially harming our eyes.

Therefore, blinking not only helps stabilize our vision but also contributes to the overall health and well-being of our eyes.


In conclusion, the reason we don’t see black when we blink is because our brain works extra hard to stabilize our vision during the blinking process. Through mechanisms such as retaining images, filling in gaps, and using predictive processing, our brain ensures that our perception of the world remains seamless even during the momentary interruption caused by blinking.

The study conducted in Singapore shed light on the brain’s remarkable capabilities in maintaining visual stability during blinking. Understanding these mechanisms not only helps us appreciate the complexity of human vision but also showcases the incredible adaptive capabilities of the brain.

So, the next time you blink, take a moment to marvel at the intricate processes happening in your brain that allow you to seamlessly retain visual perception without perceiving darkness. Blinking is not only a reflex to lubricate our eyes but also a testament to the incredible abilities of our brain.


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