Temporary blazing fast eye movements when thinking

  1. I was sitting beside my friend and I asked myself a question out loud which required scanning a mapped list (numbers-names) to find the answer. She heard and tried to help. I looked at her eyes while trying to find the answer myself and suddenly her eyes moved very quickly from center to right in a jerky manner (and back again). It lasted for about half a second. She regained focus at me and spelled out the answer.

    During those quick movements (from center to right and back again) I realized her eyes were not focused on anything. It was as if she was scanning her own brain with her eyes. I assume they were involuntary movements. I strongly doubt a human can move their eyes' muscles so quickly consciously. The movement loop was simply too fast.

    Are there any biological explanations as to what may have happened? Any neurological explanation, or this may actually be quite the complex process to be addressed with a simple answer?

  2. jcsd
  3. OmCheeto

    OmCheeto 2,078
    Gold Member
    2014 Award

    My sister and I are both capable of this. It's quite conscious, and quite deliberate. Though, it's not like trying to move your eyes back and forth. Probably the closest anatomical parallel I can come up with, is shivering.
    In the case of my sister and I, it's called Voluntary Nystagmus, as it never occurs involuntarily.

    I'm not a doctor, so I have no idea what the rest of that article means.

    If you're friend's Nystagmus was involuntary, then that's a different story.

    ps. The only reason I do it, is to freak people out.
    1 person likes this.
  4. Hahaha! You are mean. ;) I wasn't freaked out, I thought it was actually cool... what happened. But I made no expression whatsoever as I don't know if she was aware and if she was and I asked something it may have made her feel bad. I don't know.

    Are you sure it may be that? Because her eyes look normal. It was just in that instant that it happened. Can Nystagmus then happen for an instant and go away?
  5. OmCheeto

    OmCheeto 2,078
    Gold Member
    2014 Award

    No. As I said, I'm not a doctor.
    My eyes look normal.
    I can do it as briefly as ≈1/5 of a second, based on the NEJM article that says the frequency is 10 hz.
    I can keep the twitching going continuously for maybe 3 seconds at the most. Then I have to rest for a couple of seconds.

    hmmm... This is interesting:

    This is a lot more common than I realized.
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  6. Wow, that is fast.

    Thanks for that link...
    I couldn't have described it better. The words high frequency and low amplitude describe it perfectly.
  7. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

    I occasionally have involuntary nystagmus, it only lasts a second but it is really not a nice feeling.
  8. OmCheeto

    OmCheeto 2,078
    Gold Member
    2014 Award

    I was going to post a hypotheses, last night, that the condition might be related to the "Rapid Eye Movement" phase of sleep, but I couldn't find a peer reviewed article.

    And on top of that, it was way past my bed time...

    Speaking of which...

    nap time. :zzz:
  9. Ryan_m_b

    Staff: Mentor

    Wow I've been able to do that all my life and never knew there was a term for it! I've only ever met a few people that can also. It is great to freak people out :p
  10. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

    Involuntary nystagmus, which I have, the eyes move incredibly fast, that wiki picture of the eyes moving is not representative of involuntary nystagmus. I would say my eyes move back and forth 30 or more times in half a second, very disquieting. The feeling of your eyes being pulled back and forth is horrible.
  11. does it feel as if someone else is looking through your eyes?
  12. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

    No. .
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