Effects of eyelid closure, blinks, and eye movements on the electroencephalogram

Masaki Iwasaki, Christoph Kellinghaus, Andreas V. Alexopoulos, Richard C. Burgess, Arun N. Kumar, Yanning H. Han, Hans O. Lüders, R. John Leigh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To characterize the effects of the eyeball and eyelid positions during eyeblinks on electroencephalographic (EEG) potentials. Methods: Movements of the upper eyelids and eyes were measured in two healthy subjects using the magnetic search coil technique during horizontal and vertical eye rotations, eyeblinks, and lid closure. Corresponding signal changes were recorded simultaneously on the electroencephalogram (EEG). Results: Spontaneous blinks produced small eye movements directed down and inward, whereas slow or forced blinks were associated with delayed upward eye rotations (i.e. Bell's phenomenon); both types of blinks caused positive EEG potentials with bifrontal distribution maximum at Fp1 and Fp2. Conclusions: In prior reports, these positive EEG artifacts have been attributed to upward eyeball rotation during blinks - Bell's phenomenon. By contrast, our findings indicate that movements of the eyelid contribute to a greater extent to these EEG potentials than do upward eyeball rotations. Significance: Care is required in attributing EEG artifacts to movements of either eyeball or eyelid, since our findings suggest that they both contribute to these potentials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)878-885
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2005 Apr
Externally publishedYes


  • Artifacts
  • Blinks
  • Electroencephalogram
  • Eye movements
  • Eyelid
  • Saccades

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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