Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A sight for frightened eyes - scientists reveal how we recognise the look of fear

06.01.2005


Whether it’s the look of love, happiness, or the look of fear, humans use facial expressions to communicate important information to one another. But which parts of the brain read these cues, and how do they do it? A paper in this week’s Nature by a group of international scientists, including Professor Philippe Schyns from the University of Glasgow, offers new insights into how we recognize fear in people’s eyes.



The study focuses on a case study of a 38-year-old woman with rare bilateral damage to her amygdala - an almond-shape part of the brain in the temporal lobe. Unusually, she is completely unable to recognize fear from facial expressions - this deficit though can be rescued by instructing her to concentrate her attention on the person’s eyes. The researchers found, however, that the woman (named SM in the study) only succeeded in directing her gaze to the eye regions of facial images when given explicit reminders.

SM’s problem is that although she can physically see facial features, she can’t recognise the emotion of fear. SM’s impairment stems from an inability to make normal use of information from the eye region within faces when judging emotions, although she can read emotions from the mouth. Her selective impairment in recognizing fear is explained by the fact that that the eyes are the most important feature for identifying fear. However, the subject’s recognition of fearful faces became entirely normal when she was instructed to look at the eyes.


According to the results, impaired fear recognition after this type of brain injury is due to the amygdala’s hampered ability to direct the visual system to seek information - not a damaged capacity to process information from the eyes. The positive effect of explicit reminders may also help those who suffer from disorders such as autism, which affects around half a million people in the UK, and also features abnormal fixations to certain facial features.

The research helps explain the amygdala’s role in fear recognition, and could point to new ways of treating patients with defective emotion perception. For example, the study opens the possibility for developing a strategy for those who suffer from conditions that inhibit facial recognition by directing their gaze to the eye region of faces, such as through additional instruction and training.

The study was conducted through the use of many trials that included the use of 30 control subjects (women of a comparable mean age). The technology used to conduct the experiment was developed at the University of Glasgow, and included the use of images of faces with the eyes erased.

| alfa
Further information:
http://www.gla.ac.uk
http://www.nature.com/nature

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Study tracks inner workings of the brain with new biosensor
16.08.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht Foods of the future
15.08.2018 | Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: It’s All in the Mix: Jülich Researchers are Developing Fast-Charging Solid-State Batteries

There are currently great hopes for solid-state batteries. They contain no liquid parts that could leak or catch fire. For this reason, they do not require cooling and are considered to be much safer, more reliable, and longer lasting than traditional lithium-ion batteries. Jülich scientists have now introduced a new concept that allows currents up to ten times greater during charging and discharging than previously described in the literature. The improvement was achieved by a “clever” choice of materials with a focus on consistently good compatibility. All components were made from phosphate compounds, which are well matched both chemically and mechanically.

The low current is considered one of the biggest hurdles in the development of solid-state batteries. It is the reason why the batteries take a relatively long...

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum bugs, meet your new swatter

20.08.2018 | Information Technology

A novel synthetic antibody enables conditional “protein knockdown” in vertebrates

20.08.2018 | Life Sciences

Metamolds: Molding a mold

20.08.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>