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
Europe’s Demographic Future. Where the Regions Are Heading after a Decade of Crises
10.08.2017 | Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung
Scientists reveal source of human heartbeat in 3-D
07.08.2017 | University of Manchester
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
18.08.2017 | Life Sciences
18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences