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Your Facial Expressions may Prove to be Difficult for others to Identify You!

We are generally not so good at matching together two pictures of the same face

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facial expressions
different facial expressions. Wikimedia
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  • According to the recent study published in the journal i-Perception, facial expressions can cause difficulties when it comes to telling unfamiliar faces apart
  • The participants in the experiment learned the identities of two actors from naturalistic face images taken from movies using an identification task
  • Expressive training responses were slower than neutral training responses, more erroneous too

Washington DC, June 13, 2017: It is well established that facial expressions help us by indicating the mood of a person, even when the person is not up for a conversation. But a new study has shown how facial expressions can cause difficulties when it comes to telling unfamiliar faces apart.

According to the study published in the journal i-Perception, people’s faces change from moment to moment. Even over the course of a conversation with someone, if noticed well, clear changes in their expressions and in the angle of their head can be spotted.

Even time causes further significant changes in appearance, such as facial hair, changes in hairstyle or weight loss. But despite these changes, it is not difficult for us to recognise someone we know. In case of unfamiliar faces, the story is different. It is proven by numerous studies that we are generally not so good at matching together two pictures of the same face.

It still remains unknown how our visual system manages to overcome the challenge of facial changes, and helps us to recognise people even with the changed appearance.

The participants learned the identities of two actors from naturalistic (so-called ‘ambient’) face images taken from movies using an identification task. The training was conducted either with neutral images or their expressive counterparts. Perceived expressiveness had been experimentally determined.

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Expressive training responses were slower than neutral training responses, more erroneous too.

According to ANI reports, Neutrally trained participants gave slower and less accurate responses to images of high compared to low expressiveness when tested with novel images of the actors that varied in expressiveness. It is clearly demonstrated by these findings that facial expressions intervene in the processing and learning of facial identity.

This dependence on expression is consistent with a two part model of face processing in which variable facial aspects and identity are coded in a common framework. It is thus suggestive of the fact that expressions are a part of facial identity representation.

According to lead researcher Annabelle Redfern from the School of Experimental Psychology, “Our approach was to use several hundred pictures of faces taken from movies, which meant that the images in these experiments resemble the sorts of faces that we see every day. We measured people’s reaction times and their accuracy at telling unfamiliar faces apart, and how this differed when the faces were very expressive compared to when they had a neutral expression.”

Redfern also mentioned that the differences that have been found point to the idea that our brains so not treat facial expressions and facial identity separately. Instead, we are more likely to mentally store someone’s expressions along with their faces.

– prepared by Durba Mandal of NewsGram. Twitter: @dubumerang

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Google Helps Autistic Kids Read Facial Expressions

As autistic children interact with others, the app identifies and names their emotions through the Google Glass speaker or screen.

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In this technology, the child or adult wears light, computerised Glasses and sees and hears special feedback geared to the situation. Flickr

Children with autism were able to improve their social skills by using a smartphone app paired with Google Glass — an eye-wearable device — to help them understand the emotions conveyed in people’s facial expressions, according to a pilot study.

Autism is a serious developmental disorder that impairs the ability to communicate and interact.

However, the therapy, named “Superpower Glass” developed by the researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine, uses an app that provides real-time cues about people’s facial expressions to a child wearing Google Glass.

The Superpower Glass is based on applied behaviour analysis in which a clinician teaches emotion recognition using structured exercises such as flash cards depicting faces with different emotions.

Google Glass
Autistic kids can now better identify expressions. IANS

The device, which was linked with a smartphone through a local wireless network, consists of a glasses-like frame equipped with a camera to record the wearer’s field of view, as well as a small screen and a speaker to give the wearer visual and audio information.

As autistic children interact with others, the app identifies and names their emotions through the Google Glass speaker or screen.

After one to three months of regular use, parents reported that children with autism made more eye contact and related better to others.

For the study, published online in npj Digital Medicine, 14 families tested the Superpower Glass setup at home for an average of 10 weeks with three 20 minute sessions per week.

Google Glass. (Wikimedia Commons)

Also Read: Study: iPhone App Effective for Screening Toddlers With Autism

A few weeks into the trial, children began to realise that people’s faces hold clues to their feelings.

In addition, six of the 14 participants had large enough declines in their scores to move down one step in the severity of their autism classification.

This treatment could help fill a major gap in autism care due to a shortage of trained therapists, as children may have to wait as long as 18 months after an autism diagnosis to begin receiving treatment, the researchers noted. (IANS)