Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Learning from the dead: what facial muscles can tell us about emotion

16.06.2008
Laugh and the world laughs with you, but wrinkle your nose and you could find yourself on your own.

A new study by a scientist at the University of Portsmouth who examined the facial muscles in cadavers, has revealed that the muscles which control our facial expressions are not common to everyone.

The Risorius muscle, which experts believe controls our ability to create an expression of extreme fear, is found in only two thirds of the population.

Dr Bridget Waller has published a study in the American Psychological Association Journal which describes the unique variation of musculature structure in the face.

It is the first systematic study into the variations of muscles in the human face and how this relates to facial expression. It has important implications for our understanding of non-verbal communication.

Dr Waller is from the Centre for the Study of Emotion in the Department of Psychology. She collaborated with anatomists at the University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne University in the USA.

They found that all humans have a core set of five facial muscles which they believe control our ability to produce a set of standard expressions which convey anger, happiness, surprise, fear, sadness and disgust. But there are up to nineteen muscles which may be present in the face and many people do not possess all of them.

Dr Waller said: “Everyone communicates using a set of common signals and so we would expect to find that the muscles do not vary among individuals. The results are surprising - in some individuals we found only 60 per cent of the available muscles.”

She said that everyone is able to produce the same basic facial expressions and movements but we also have individual variations.

“Some less common facial expressions may be unique to certain people,” she said. “The ability to produce subtly different variants of facial expressions may allow us to develop individual ‘signatures’ that are specific to certain individuals.”

She said that there are significant implications for the importance of facial expression in society.

“Facial expression serves an essential function in society and may be a form of social bonding,” Dr Waller said. “It allows us to synchronise our behaviour and understand each other better.”

Dr Waller has completed studies which examined facial expressions in apes. She said that primates who live within social groups have a more elaborate communication repertoire including more complex facial expressions.

“There is a theory that language evolved to help us bond us together in social groups and we may be able to apply the same theory to facial expressions,” she said.

The face is the only part of the human anatomy which has been found to display such a massive variation in muscle structure. In the only other example of muscular differences, the forearm has a muscle which approximately fifteen per cent of the population don’t have.

Dr Anne Burrows from Duquesne University was one of the anatomists on the study. She said: “The problems with quantifying facial musculature is that they're not like other muscles. They're fairly flat, difficult to separate from surrounding connective tissue and they all attach to one another. They are very unlike muscles of the limbs, for example.

“The variation we see in the face is absolutely unique,” said Dr Waller.

Dr Waller said that actors need not worry because people will compensate for a lack of one muscle by using another to develop a similar expression. And people can learn to develop a facial expression by practising in front of a mirror.

“As humans we are able to change the level of control we have over our facial expressions,” said Dr Waller. “There is a great deal of asymmetry in the face and the left side is generally more expressive than the right. But someone who is unable to raise one eyebrow without raising the other could in fact learn to raise just one.”

The implication for those actors who have had botox speaks for itself.

Lisa Egan | alfa
Further information:
http://www.port.ac.uk

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Real-time feedback helps save energy and water
08.02.2017 | Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg

nachricht The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Impacts of mass coral die-off on Indian Ocean reefs revealed

21.02.2017 | Earth Sciences

Novel breast tomosynthesis technique reduces screening recall rate

21.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Use your Voice – and Smart Homes will “LISTEN”

21.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>