Saturday, February 5, 2011

Doll's Eyes

When I was a kid, my sister had one of those dolls with the eyes that moved around in it’s head on some kind of spring or something. Have you ever seen one of those? The idea is to make them seem "real," but they’re kind of creepy. You turn the head, but the eyes keep looking at you. It makes me think of that Telly Savalas Twilight Zone episode...

“My name is Talky Tina, and I’m going to kill youuuuuuu.”

This “Doll’s Eyes” thing is what they use in hospitals sometimes to see how a person’s brain is doing. If your head is moved, your eyes should move in the opposite direction like these kinds of doll’s eyes. If the eyes move with the head, well, that’s not good. The eyes should naturally move in the opposite direction. If your brain is in good shape, when you’re looking at something and you move your head around, your eyes stay focused on the thing you’re looking at. Go ahead, try it. Look at your computer screen and move your head around a bit. Your eyes, amazingly, stay in place on the computer. (If your eyes couldn’t stay on the computer while you moved your head around, please see a medical professional RIGHT NOW!)

Anyway. To my point. I was just thinking about how amazing this is. The technical term for it is “Vestibulo-ocular Reflex.” Without it, we’d have a hard time reading a newspaper or a blog or pretty much anything else. Driving would be down-right dangerous. And you can test this too. I’ve done it. Just consciously hold your eyes in place while you move your head around. Things get blurry really fast. To focus you have to hold your head still. It's actually hard to NOT vestibulo-ocularize reflexively.

Imagine if your eyes had to move with your head. Imagine you didn’t have a vestibulo-ocular reflex. Now that would be a tough way to live. Imagine how stiff your neck would be all the time.

It’s a truly amazing thing that our eyes can stay focused on something while our heads move around. I mean, just think of the complexity of it. The way I understand it, your ears tell your eyes what to do in this situation, and a vast number of muscles and nerves all respond practically instantaneously to compensate for the movement of the head. It’s not that our eyes are weighted and are relying on gravity to stay in one place. No, it’s just muscles and nerves reacting in split second timing to the movement of our heads. It is a supremely amazing thing that I totally took for granted. And maybe you did too.

Until, hopefully, right now.

Psalm 139:14
Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2011


  1. I can picture you trying this for some reason! I get your point is pretty amazing.

    You're typing! Good news!

  2. Some hand typing, some voice recognition software typing, some copy paste stuff. But we manage.

  3. I totally remember that Twilight Zone episode.


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