, Volume 205, Issue 4, pp 577-581
Date: 11 Aug 2010

Eyeblink entrainment at breakpoints of speech

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Abstract

The eyes play an essential role in social communication. Eyeblinks, however, have thus far received minor attention. We previously showed that subjects blink in synchrony while viewing the same video stories (Nakano et al. in Proc R Soc B 276:3635–3644, 2009). We therefore hypothesized that eyeblinks are synchronized between listener and speaker in face-to-face conversation. Here, we show that listeners blinked with a delay of 0.25–0.5 s after the speaker blinked when the listeners viewed close-up video clips (with sound) of the speaker’s face. Furthermore, this entrainment was selectively triggered by speaker’s eyeblinks occurring at the end and during pauses in speech. Eyeblink entrainment was not observed when viewing identical video clips without sound, indicating that blink entrainment was not an automatic imitation. We therefore suggest that eyeblink entrainment reflects smooth communication between interactants.